My article is now published on the removal of babies from their parents in Family Law Week . I have been wondering to myself where the local authority considering the McCann children stand (see this article : they will only have an argument to remove the twins if there is evidence on which a court could say that there are reasonable grounds for believing that Madeleine suffered significant harm attributable to the care given to her by her parents not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give her and that there is a risk of similar harm to the twins. In the McCann’s case there might possibly be an argument arising from the fact that they left the children alone while they were eating a meal, although I doubt that would be anywhere near sufficient to justify removal if the reports of their proximity to the children and the frequent checks they made are true. If, however, there is some evidence implicating them in her disappearance, that might be a different story. I have read some reports suggesting that biological fluids were found in the car hired some weeks after her disappearance which are an 80% match to Madeleine’s DNA. Even if there is any truth to this, it begs a lot of questions including whether the fluid may in fact come from the twins and a Telegraph article discusses other concerns about the quality of forensic findings. The problem will come if the case ends up in a UK family court before the evidence can be fully examined (goodness only knows how this fits with the Portuguese rules about the suspect not being able to speak in public about the case). The court then has to decide whether the evidence of harm, even if not conclusive, justifies removal given that the risk of harm to the other children would be of harm of an extremely serious & life threatening nature. The horror of them losing two more children while full enquiries are made, particularly if months later it becomes clear that they are not responsible does not bear thinking about, but equally neither does the idea of taking an unnecessary risk with the children. Even if the local authority decided to ask the court to sanction removal, however, it should not forget to look at the option of other family members caring for the children. I start from a position of legal scepticism about the likelihood of the McCanns being responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance or death but I have to confess that there is something about them that makes me very much want it to turn out that they are not implicated in any way – not that the prospect of a random villain is of much more comfort.