The High Court has heard how a couple desperate for a baby were duped into an international fertility scam, which resulted in them being given someone else's baby as their own in exchange for money.
The Nigerian couple, known only as Mr and Mrs S for legal reasons, told the court that they had been lured into paying a Nigerian 'fertility clinic' £6,000 for a special treatment in 2009.
They had been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for some years.
The court heard how they had then travelled to Nigeria in April 2010 for medical treatment including injections and tablets. After the treatment Mrs S said she felt that she had fallen pregnant, as her stomach swelled and she experienced repeated bouts of nausea and sickness.
Mrs S returned to the UK for her pregnancy and was told by doctors in Nigeria that it was unlikely that her baby would be identified on any subsequent scan. She was therefore not surprised when she went for antenatal care in a London hospital and was told that the scan revealed no baby and no pulse.
In September, Mrs S returned to Nigeria for the final stages of pregnancy. Whilst there she told the court that she was invited to the hospital and placed under an anaesthetic. When she came round she was handed her baby, which she explained to the court was covered in blood as would have been a normal child.
Social services were alerted to the baby upon their return and DNA testing revealed that the child was not biologically related to either Mr or Mrs S. The authorities took the child into care and Mr and Mrs S sued for custody, on the basis that they had been duped by the Nigerian clinic into believing that the child they were given was their own.
Ordering the couple to be granted 'special guardianship' of the child, Mr Justice Coleridge said Mr and Mrs S were people of the 'highest caliber and complete integrity' who had been duped into believing that they had parented a child of their own.
Justice Coleridge told the court that this appalling scam was not the only one going through UK courts at present, saying that this was a "very worrying development of very real public interest".
"It is not the only case, on almost identical facts, before the courts at the moment. It certainly gives rise to very real public interest, particularly the lack of involvement by the Nigerian authorities," he said.