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Mother and son kept apart for six months to be reunited

A mother and son kept apart for more than six months should be reunited, a judge overseeing a record-breaking dispute in the specialist Court of Protection has decided.

The man - who is in his 20s, is autistic and has learning disabilities - was taken from his parents' care, with a judge's approval, and moved to a residential unit nearly three years ago.

His father and adult sister have visited regularly. But his mother, who also has health difficulties, was barred from seeing him during the summer of 2016 after council social services staff raised concerns about her behaviour and said her visits were unsettling him.

Mr Justice Baker has concluded that a reunion would be in the man's best interests.

The judge did not criticise social services staff but said arrangements should be made which would allow the woman to visit regularly.

He is overseeing the case at hearings in the Court of Protection, where rulings about people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are made, in London.

He says the case has occupied over 10 weeks of court time in total - more than any other in Court of Protection history.

He analysed the latest stage at a public hearing lasting several days last week - and called for a resumption of contact in a ruling.

He said no-one involved could be identified.

Detail of the litigation emerged in a 70-page ruling by Mr Justice Baker in 2014.

The judge said 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", and Court of Protection litigation began.

Mr Justice Baker agreed with concerns raised and criticised the couple in his 2014 ruling.

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 woman had been devious, "relentlessly criticising" and had repeatedly complained about people who did not "follow her bidding".

The couple represented themselves at the latest hearing.

They said they did not qualify for legal aid but could not afford lawyers.

The woman told the judge that their son wanted to "come home".

She said they had suffered "the worst imaginable trauma" when he was taken from their care.

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

"He was taken from home in March 2014," said the woman after the hearing.

"I was stopped from visiting in June 2016."

She added: "This isn't right. It's not justified. We're not criminals."

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

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

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