Couple return to court in record-breaking dispute over autistic son’s care

A couple embroiled in a long-running dispute over the care of their autistic son have returned to court for the latest stage of a record-breaking case.

The man, who has learning difficulties and is now 30, is at the centre of litigation in the specialist Court of Protection, where judges consider issues relating to people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions, in London.

He was taken from his parents’ care in March 2014, with a judge’s approval, and is now living in specialist accommodation.

Two years ago a judge said the case had occupied over 10 weeks of court time in total – more than any other in Court of Protection history.

A judge on Monday gave his approval to the man’s living arrangements, at a review hearing, after council social services staff with responsibility for his care said he was doing well.

Mr Justice Hayden said the man should remain where he was.

At one stage the man’s mother was barred from seeing him after social services staff raised concerns about his behaviour.

But Mr Justice Hayden heard that the man was now seeing mother, and father, regularly and he said that “contact” was going well.

The man’s mother told the judge that the hearing was number 68.

Detail of the litigation emerged in a 70-page ruling by another judge in 2014.

Mr Justice Baker had explained how the man had lived with his parents throughout his childhood and had “by all accounts” been well cared for.

Social workers became involved after the couple asked about funding for a college placement when their son reached his late teens.

They raised a series of concerns, saying the woman had subjected her son to a regime characterised by “excessive control”.

Litigation then began.

Mr Justice Baker agreed with concerns raised and criticised the couple.

The judge heard that they had made more than 230 complaints relating to their son’s care.

He said the couple’s behaviour had been unreasonable. He said the man’s mother had been devious, “relentlessly criticising” and had repeatedly complained about people who did not “follow her bidding”.

The couple told Mr Justice Baker that they had suffered “the worst imaginable trauma” when their son was taken from them.

They have raised concerns about him being given anti-psychotic drugs.

The couple have represented themselves at hearings.

They have said they do not qualify for legal aid but cannot afford lawyers.

The couple have said ministers should change rules so that people in their position can get legal aid.

They have estimated that about £2 million of public money had been spent on the case.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Ansell / PA Wire.

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