Surrogate mother jailed for harassment

Surrogacy is when a surrogate mother carries and gives birth to a baby for another person or couple.

Surrogacy is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The intended parents are parents who become the legal parent(s) of a child born through surrogacy and will obtain parental responsibility over the child.

It is important to note that under the English Law the surrogate mother has a right to keep her child if she decides to change her mind. Despite having the legal right in Britain to change her mind and keep the child a surrogate carries, our family specialists consider the case of a surrogate mother who was forced to hand over the infant to the couple she had been helping to have a family.

Surrogate mother campaigns against judge who ruled against her

A surrogate mum lost a legal battle to keep the child she carried and was jailed for stalking court officials who forced her to hand the baby over. Lian Harris was sent down for 22 weeks by magistrates in Preston for waging a yearlong campaign of harassment against a judge and a court welfare officer.

The court heard Harris had agreed to be a surrogate mother for a couple, before deciding to keep her baby. The case was heard before Judge Singleton with the judge ruling the child should remain with the couple for whom Lian Harris had been a surrogate mother.  

Surrogate mother begins campaign after deciding to keep the baby she carried

The surrogate mother began her campaign after deciding she wanted to keep the baby she had originally agreed to hand over to another couple as part of a surrogacy agreement.

Under English Law surrounding surrogacy, the woman who gives birth to a child is legally the mother until the couple who wanted the child can secure a parental order.

The couple she carried the baby for insisted she honour their agreement and took her to court where Judge Sarah Singleton ruled in their favour.

Surrogate mother attends the home of the judge

On the 28th May 2016 the surrogate mother attended the home address of the judge with an unknown male. At 11am the judge noticed a male by her bins, taking photos of her property and motor vehicle on his mobile phone. At first, the judge was not concerned, as the male was polite towards her.

The judge then heard a knock at the door and was horrified to find the surrogate mother, Miss Harris standing there. The judge recognised her from the family court hearing that she had been dealing with. Miss Harris smiled at her and made attempts to pass her a handwritten note, but the judge panicked and swiftly shut the door, her heart was racing, and her mind was spinning.

The surrogate mother had also staged a Mother’s Day protest outside the home of Sir James Munby, the head of the family courts. The surrogate mother has also scaled Westminster Cathedral holding a banner saying: “Family courts do evil.” Surprisingly the mother also turned up at the home of children’s minister Edward Timpson in an attempt to hand him a protest letter.

Defence lawyer argues surrogate mother was of good character with no previous convictions

The surrogate mother’s lawyer in mitigation said “Miss Harris is a 41-year-old woman, with previous good character and no previous convictions.” However, district judge Mark Hadfield told Harris: “You are in court today facing very serious charge of stalking. As far as mitigation is concerned, there is no mitigation. Your age and your previous good character are all that could be put forwards”.

“The probation service’s assessment that you are a low risk re-offender I disagree with. You have shown no remorse for your actions, you are in denial. The probation service say that they feel there are no issues that they can assist with – but in my view there are many issues that probation can help you with. You do not appear to understand the seriousness of this case.”

The judge in Preston Magistrates Court sentenced the surrogate mother for 22 weeks. The case highlights the legal issues parents can face when surrogacy goes wrong. Even though a surrogate mum would usually have the legal right to change her mind and keep the child, the courts gave custody of Harris’ baby to the couple she was helping.

“It’s very sad when things go wrong,” said an official of the support group Surrogacy UK. “The overwhelming majority go really smoothly.”

If you would like more information on surrogacy or adoption please contact our family lawyers on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back to arrange a FREE Initial consultation. Did you know we can also provide consultation via Skype? With offices in York, Newcastle, Oxford and Northampton we are able to cater for clients nationally.

FOLLOW US ONLINE

Find your nearest Kabir Family Law Office and arrange meeting

Kabir Family Law Fulham

Kabir Family Law Fulham
Chester House
1st and 3rd Floors
81 - 83 Fulham High Street
Fulham
London
SW63JA

Kabir Family Law Northampton

20-30a Abington Street
Northampton
NN1 2JA

01604 267900

Kabir Family Law Oxford

1 & 3 Kings Meadow
Oxford
OX2 0DP

01865 411200

Kabir Family Law Newcastle

Clavering House
Clavering Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
NE1 3NG

0191 814 1000

Kabir Family Law London

Kabir Family Law London
16 High Holborn
Holborn
London
WC1V6BX

0203 995 6100

Kabir Family Law York

Tower Court
3 Oakdale Road
North Yorkshire
York
YO30 4XL

01904 221400

Kabir Family Law Fulham

Kabir Family Law Fulham
Chester House
1st and 3rd Floors
81 - 83 Fulham High Street
Fulham
London
SW63JA

View Location

Kabir Family Law Northampton

20-30a Abington Street
Northampton
NN1 2JA

View Location

Kabir Family Law Oxford

1 & 3 Kings Meadow
Oxford
OX2 0DP

View Location

Kabir Family Law Newcastle

Clavering House
Clavering Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
NE1 3NG

View Location

Kabir Family Law London

Kabir Family Law London
16 High Holborn
Holborn
London
WC1V6BX

View Location

Kabir Family Law York

Tower Court
3 Oakdale Road
North Yorkshire
York
YO30 4XL

View Location