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Family of autistic boy sues Scouts for £42,000 over discrimination

Ben with his sister Sophie Credit: .

An 11-year-old boy from Hertfordshire has received more than £40,000 in compensation after claims his scout group discriminated against him for having autism.

Ben Gleeson, who has Asperger's syndrome, had been a member of the 10th Harpenden Scout Group since January 2015.

But after he became distressed on a camp over a misunderstanding about his shoes, scout leaders said he could no longer travel on the scout bus or do athletics in the local park.

The Scout Association has admitted the case was very 'badly handled'.

Ben's condition means he can become anxious about change and things that are unknown or uncertain.

However, his parents said his condition should have been managed by the scout group with a few simple techniques.

“This case was never about money. It was about forcing change within the Scouting Association to ensure that it is accessible to all children. Ben’s brother and sister are active members, and we wanted Ben to be too. He absolutely loved his time in the scouts and was incredibly upset when he could no longer attend.”

– Mark Gleeson, Ben's dad
Ben with his older brother James Credit: .

Compensation of £42,000 has been paid to the family after an out of court settlement.

The Scouting Association has also pledged to make significant changes to how they treat autistic children.

“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.

"We are the largest youth organisation in the UK with 154,162 volunteer leaders supporting 464,595 young people across the country. Each week we support tens of thousands of disabled young people, including those with developmental disabilities such as autism, to join and fully participate in scouting.

"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. We are very keen for Ben's parents to contribute and we have been in contact with them to see if they would be willing to take part. The National Autistic Society have agreed to be part of this inquiry."

– The Scouting Association