A WOMAN involved in a number of international adoption disputes once worked in the North-East as a council social worker - despite having no relevant qualifications.

Jay Carter, 51, is due to find out in a few weeks time if she will face prosecution for her role in a series of international adoption deals.

The mother-of-five from Skelton was criticised by High Court Judge Mr Justice Munby last month over her role in what he called the "evil trade" of buying and selling children for adoption.

Mrs Carter has been attacked by a succession of High Court judges for her inadequate home study reports, used to win adoption orders for potential adoptive parents - a practice which has since been banned.

Mr Justice Munby was so incensed that he took the unusual step of lifting a ban on her identification in the public interest.

A specialist department of the Crown Prosecution Service is now examining Mrs Carter's role in approving a number of adoptions. They include the high profile case of the Kilshaws, who were allowed to adopt two American babies after Mrs Carter's assessment of them.

Mr Justice Munby lifted the ban after hearing how Mrs Carter, who runs the Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy (Cots) agency, approved the adoption claims of a woman with a history of alcoholism and depression.

Durham County Council confirmed this week that County Durham-born Mrs Carter worked on a temporary contract as a social worker in the Sedgefield area between August 1985 and July 1986. The authority employed her again between September 1986 and May 1987 but terminated her contract when she failed to pass any exams.

A spokesman for Durham County Council said the authority no longer employs unqualified social workers in any capacity.

He said: "Under these rules, someone like Jay Carter would not be employed here."

Mrs Carter set herself up as a "baby broker" after she left Sedgefield. None of the controversial adoptions took place during her time as a social worker with Durham County Council.

A Government spokesman said the law regarding adoption had been tightened up, partly as a result of the Kilshaw case. It is now an offence to use private home study reports as a basis to adopt from overseas.

Instead, a certificate of eligibility must be obtained from the Department of Health. From June, it will even be illegal to bring adopted children into Britain unless a certificate has been obtained. A nation-wide register of social workers is also being drawn up.

Speaking from the couple's home, Mrs Carter's husband Robin said his wife would not discuss the matter.

Previously, Mrs Carter had said that she had broken no laws.