I have been reading with growing alarm about the case of Fran Lyons on her website Asking for a Chance and in the press (see this Daily Mail article . I have to say I rarely like to get drawn into this sort of debate as usually you can only hear one half of the story. But the half that I have heard causes me great concern. Fran has clearly had some problems earlier in her life and now she is expecting a baby. The local authority are saying that they will remove the baby at birth. Fran is understandably terrified about what will happen. I don’t know all the background details of the case but if half of what is written about the case is true, the local authority would be well advised to take a look at an article I have written for Family Law Week which will be published next week. In one of the cases referred to the Mr Justice McFarlane specifically says that cases involving fabricated or induced illness with no medical evidence of immediate risk of direct harm to the child will rarely warrant an emergency protection order. In addition there is case law which suggests that Munchausens Syndrome By Proxy (MBSP) or factititious illness (a syndrome in which parents are thought to fabricate or induce illness in children) does not even exist. Mr Justice Ryder said this: “The terms ‘Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy’ and ‘Factitious (and Induced) Illness (by Proxy)’ are child protection labels that are merely descriptions of a range of behaviours, not a paediatric, psychiatric or psychological disease that is identifiable. The terms do not relate to an organised or universally recognised body of knowledge or experience that has identified a medical disease (ie an illness or condition) and there are no internationally accepted medical criteria for the use of either label. In reality, the use of the label is intended to connote that in the individual case there are materials susceptible of analysis by paediatricians and of findings of fact by a court concerning fabrication, exaggeration, minimisation or omission in the reporting of symptoms and evidence of harm by act, omission or suggestion (induction). Where such facts exist the context and assessments can provide an insight into the degree of risk that a child may face and the court is likely to be assisted as to that aspect by psychiatric and/or psychological expert evidence.” Fran says that she has been diagnosed as likely to suffer from this syndrome by a Paediatrician who has not in fact ever met her. Further she says that the Psychiatrist(s) that know her do not agree. It is difficult to see how that diagnosis could possibly be made on a paper assessment before the baby has even been born and suffered any harm at all. Writing about diagnosing MBSP, Professor Tim David, a leading Paediatrician said: “This is one area where confusion can occur. The diagnosis is made in the same way as in any other case of physical abuse, and not by identifying certain parental characteristics, such as the mother being a nurse.” And even if it were true that Fran does have the condition of MBSP this does not mean she could not be given support and Psychiatric treatment.