Britain’s most famous gay dads are at the centre of a controversy over their surrogate mother business. Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow were the first same-sex couple in Europe to have their names on the birth certificates of their children. Now they have four sons and a daughter created with the help of a variety of egg donors and surrogates.
Barrie Drewitt-Barlow owns a company called the British Surrogacy Centre (BSC) which organises commercial surrogacy for international clients, including people from the UK. Despite the name, however, commercial surrogacy is illegal in Britain, so the company is actually based on the other side of the Atlantic. Britiish surrogates may only be reimbursed for “reasonable expenses”.
A report by investigative reporters from the Daily Mail claims that the BSC is operating in a legal grey area. Baroness Mary Warnock, an ethicist who was the architect the UK’s policies on fertility, is outraged by the company’s activities:
‘It seems pretty clear that they are breaking the law. I think their motive is to get around the law and they should be investigated by the authorities on that basis alone. I would like to know the details of their financial profits and I think certainly the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority should investigate their activities. This is a plain case of exploitation.’
The Drewitt-Barlows have courted controversy for years. They made a fortune from Euroderm Research, now insolvent, which ran clinical trials. They also had their own reality-TV show, “The Parent Makers”, about their unusual family. A website advertises their extravagant family life. Now they appear to have moved into US-based commercial surrogacy, with two centres and 15 full-time staff. London papers have often run articles about their sometimes-stormy relationships with clients or the surrogate mothers.
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