Businessmen, lawyers and Church in challenge to gay adoption

A CONSORTIUM of businessmen and professionals is believed to be funding a legal challenge to prevent a young brother and sister being adopted by two gay men, it emerged yesterday.

The consortium, which reportedly also includes lawyers, approached the Catholic Church in Scotland last week. The deal is being facilitated by the church, which is fundamentally opposed to gay adoption.

The Scotsman yesterday contacted several high-profile Scottish businessmen on the issue. Sir Tom Farmer, the philanthropist, denied any involvement. A spokesman for Stagecoach chief Brian Souter would only say that he was aware of the issue. Mr Souter pledged 1 million to fight plans to repeal controversial legislation which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools in 2000.

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A leading Edinburgh law firm has been instructed to work on behalf of the children's grandparents, who were told they were too old, at 46 and 59, to care for the youngsters.

With financial support and the backing of the Catholic Church, the family is hoping that lawyers can get a judicial review of Edinburgh city council's decision to remove the four-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother from their family.

Last week, it emerged that the children had been cared for by their grandparents to prevent them being taken into care, after their mother became involved with an abusive partner who introduced her to heroin.

Social workers raised concerns about the grandparents' ability to care for the children – citing their ages and ill health. The grandmother has diabetes and her husband has angina.

The grandparents, who cannot be named, said they had fought for two years to care for their grandchildren and only agreed to adoption after facing massive legal bills.

On hearing that their legal costs were being taken care of, the grandmother said: "I can't believe anyone would do that for us. We are so grateful."

Her husband added: "We never wanted to let (the children] go and, if we had known it would come to this, we would have fought it to our last breath.

"We can now see it was the wrong thing to do. We were bullied and manipulated.

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"Now, because of the generosity of a stranger, we might have a chance to put things right – not only for our family but for others who are put in this position."

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: "As well as the moral issue there is also a legal question, which needs to be explored. Lawyers will be taking this forward with the family.

"Allowing two men to adopt children against the wishes of their grandparents who want to care for them is positively wicked. It is not surprising this case has caused outrage."

A spokesman for the council said the authority had not yet received a written complaint from the grandparents. He added: "If we do receive a complaint from the family concerned then we will investigate that."