In a test case for female prisoners with babies, Richard Gordon QC told the Court of Appeal in London the interests of the child had been totally forgotten when the ban was made.
If the prison's ruling is upheld, the mother and newborn child will be separated when they leave hospital and return to Holloway Prison in London.
Mr Gordon said the prison's criteria and procedures for admission to the mother and baby unit represented a "complete misunderstanding of the Children Act" and were unlawful.
The 24-year-old mother, a university undergraduate who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave birth in hospital last week as lawyers launched their fight to challenge the ban, which was recommended by an admissions board and approved by the prison governor, Mike Sheldrick. At a judicial review into the decision yesterday, Mr Gordon said the mother, who is serving five years, was denied a fair hearing before the board.
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