Mother who fears her daughter was stolen by baby traffickers launches new appeal for truth

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ruth Appleby Ruth Appleby

A MOTHER who fears her newborn daughter was stolen by Spanish baby traffickers will today (Tuesday, December 3) mark what would be the girl's 21st birthday with a fresh appeal for the truth.

Ruth Appleby was told that her baby, named Rebecca, had died the day after giving birth by Caesarean section at a hospital in La Coruna, northern Spain, in 1992.

This was despite her former husband seeing the apparently healthy newborn just hours earlier.

An estimated 300,000 babies were sold for adoption by a network of doctors, nurses and nuns under General Franco from 1939, and after his death until the late 1990s.

Ms Appleby is now fundraising in a bid to generate £15,000 to pay for travel to Spain and legal costs, and will today spend her lost child's 21st birthday at a London conference aimed at persuading the Government to provide more help for the many families affected.

Ms Appleby, from Colburn, North Yorkshire, said: "Each birthday that comes around is difficult - I can't grieve because I don't know if she is alive or not.

"This year my case has moved on so quickly and is being looked at by a top Spanish lawyer who said my case has the most evidence of any he has seen - we are currently waiting for an appeal date to get it looked at by a judge."

Today's House of Lords event has been organised by Seville-based journalist Teresa Robins to demand the Spanish government act on the disappearances and bring together families and groups across Spain to bring about a thorough investigation.

Richmond MP William Hague has met Ms Appleby several times and is supporting her.

She said: "This whole process has been a huge strain on me and my family - both emotionally and financially.

"It is especially difficult to face her 21st birthday when all I have ever had is a footprint stamped on a hospital document when she was born.

"The charity Missing Abroad has been so helpful and has funded some of my travel, but now I need to do my own fundraising."

Her son Benji, 12, has helped create a poster for Missing Abroad to push publicity.

He said: "There is a picture of an empty crib and a teardrop. I feel like I have a sister out there I don't know so I want to support mum and help find her."

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