Hertfordshire family awarded £42,000 after suing for discrimination against autistic son, 11

A cub scout group paid out £42,000 in compensation to an 11-year-old boy after his family claimed they discriminated against him because he had autism.

Ben Gleeson, from Hertfordshire, joined the 10th Harpenden Scout Group group back in 2015 but was later told he could not go to camps or take part in athletics without being supervised.

His parents, who are both lawyers, sued the group under the Equality Act because they felt this decision amounted to a ban, and the dispute was settled out of court last year.

His parents said they told scout leaders his autism manifested as anxiety around change and that he would need to know plans in advance, reports the BBC.

They also told the leaders methods to help calm and distract him should he get upset.

Ben Gleeson, from Hertfordshire, joined the 10th Harpenden Scout Group group back in 2015 but was later told he could not go to camps or take part in athletics without being supervised Ben Gleeson, from Hertfordshire, joined the 10th Harpenden Scout Group group back in 2015 but was later told he could not go to camps or take part in athletics without being supervised

Ben Gleeson, from Hertfordshire, joined the 10th Harpenden Scout Group group back in 2015 but was later told he could not go to camps or take part in athletics without being supervised

In March 2016, Ben had an episode in which he tried to run a short distance away from the group because he could not find a pair of shoes he was told to change into.

He then later refused to join an egg-and-spoon race because of his phobia of spoons.

After these two incidents, pack leaders decided he could not travel with the group on a bus, and that he had to have one-to-one supervision at other events.

The group claimed the decision had been made for the health and safety of everyone. 

Ben’s mother, Beverly, said it was a ‘complete overreaction’ that ‘singled Ben out’ and that she feared it would make him ‘feel different’.

She said: ‘I felt he didn’t need it. He didn’t have this level of supervision at school. He’d made one mistake and then that was it, they wanted to make the rules and regulations. It was supposed to be a dialogue.’

Ben added: ‘I don’t like the idea of someone following me all the time.’

The Scout Association have launched an inquiry into the incident. 

A spokesperson for the Scout Association said:’The handling of Ben’s case was completely unacceptable.

‘We are very sorry that Ben and his family were not supported as they should have been by their cub scout pack, and we have made a personal apology to them.

‘While cases like this are very unusual, we know that action must be taken. We have established an inquiry to investigate what went wrong in this case.’

Some of the £42,000 awards to the Gleesons has been donated to a local autism charity, with the rest in a trust of Ben.

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