The Royal Borough is being sued for racial discrimination by a couple who say their application to adopt was refused because of their Indian heritage.

IT company vice-president Sandeep Mander and his wife Reena from Maidenhead, told Judge Melissa Clarke at Oxford County Court that council social worker Shirley Popat who visited their home later made a phone call that shocked them.

Mrs Mander said: "She confirmed she would not accept our application due to our cultural heritage and our only other option was to adopt from India or Pakistan."

But Hilary Loades, who was team leader for Adopt Berkshire, which works with the Royal Borough and other councils to organise adoptions, said the couple had been too specific about wanting a child under three with simple needs.

She said: ""At the time, they were seeking placement for a single young child which did not match the criteria. There was nothing to suggest they were not suitable.

"Many adopters are looking for children who do not have complex needs and most children in the local authority do. We were recruiting, we weren’t recruiting for them."

Katherine Foster, defence barrister for Royal Berkshire of Windsor and Maidenhead Adoption Service which denies all the couple's claims, challenged Mrs Mander, saying: “You are now determined to attribute racism to these social workers. You interpreted it as being racist when it was not.

The Manders - who are both aged in their 30s - began the four-day court battle against the adoption service on Tuesday with the backing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The couple who identify as British and have been unable to have a child of their own, said they were willing to give a home to a child of any race.

They took their case to Oxford County Court, privately suing the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council over its treatment of them.

They have since adopted a child from America.

The case continues.