Foster parents told to stay away from 'autistic' man

Judge backs decision to take 30-year-old away from carers despite 12-year relationship

A vulnerable young man with significant learning difficulties and "autistic tendencies" was controversially taken away from his foster family of 12 years, the Court of Protection heard yesterday.

The "fairly dramatic intervention" of the local authority in removing the young man from his foster home had caused "considerable hurt" to his former foster parents, Mr Justice Hedley said.

But his judgement also saw the foster parents lose the right to any direct contact with the young man – known only as GR – for the foreseeable future, arguing that it was no longer in his best interests even though the pair had cared for him since he was 16.

The couple were given four weeks to decide whether they wanted to continue legal action over the circumstances of GR's removal from their home but warned that they could be liable for the other side's costs if unsuccessful. The young man, now aged 30, has "significant learning difficulties and what is described as autistic tendencies", Mr Justice Hedley said.

It was the latest in a series of complex ethical cases to come before the Court of Protection, which makes difficult and controversial rulings about the financial affairs and welfare of people seen to lack mental capacity. It had remained one of the most hidden corners of the justice system until a legal victory by The Independent in 2010 opened up its workings to the public. Yesterday's hearing was one of only a handful of private sessions in the court to which the media has subsequently been granted access. In his ruling, the judge used his power to decide which members of the former foster family GR would be allowed to have contact with, and how often.

He ruled that the foster parents should have no direct contact but should be allowed to send a card or photograph four times a year: at Christmas, Easter, his birthday and the summer. In his judgement, Mr Justice Hedley said: "One of the realities of acting as a foster parent is that there comes a day when you can be required to let go. The court has evidence from [a doctor] that direct contact is not in GR's best interest."

However, he ruled that GR could have direct meetings with the couple's two sons, aged 13 and 11, arguing that they "obviously have a significant relationship with GR and he with them."

He ruled that GR should be allowed to see his foster brothers seven times a year – allowing them to meet every school holiday and twice during the long summer break. But he also intended "that the door is left open" on the issue of GR's former foster parents being allowed to visit him as the situation would be kept under review.

The powers of the Court of Protection have been challenged by those who fear that there are cases when authorities attempt to use the jurisdiction to control every aspect of people's private lives.

Recent cases have included an autistic woman who was banned from having sex because she was judged to lack the mental capacity to consent and an elderly couple whose local council tried to stop them going on a cruise holiday because the wife had dementia. The court refused to ban the trip.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living