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Article Date: 29 Jul 2010

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has ramped up its legal campaigning with the launch of a new Autism Legal Network and a call for cases with the potential to change the law for the half a million people with autism in the UK.

Mark Lever, NAS chief executive, said:

The NAS is evolving. Last year we successfully secured the landmark Autism Act. However, in the current economic climate political campaigning is only going to become more difficult. The Autism Legal Network will play a key and strategic role in our future success. Championing the rights of people with autism through the courts will dramatically increase the reach and impact of our campaigning. We’ll be working with lawyers to try and set legal precedents and create real and lasting change for people with this serious, lifelong and disabling condition.

In particular, the NAS is appealing for cases aimed at tackling the devastating lack of help for the over 70% of children with autism who also have a mental health problem. The call comes after the charity’s You Need to Know campaign found that mental health services fail to help two thirds of children with the condition.

The Autism Legal Network builds on existing legal campaigning by the NAS, begun with the high profile case of Gary McKinnon. The NAS also intervened in the Supreme Court earlier this month in the A v Essex case. This successfully set a legal precedent over the right to education for all children with disabilities. As a result, councils which leave a child with autism without any education risk being held by the courts to have breached that child’s human rights.

During the launch, held at the Law Society on Tuesday 20 July 2010, Mark Lever thanked lawyers for their continued support. Speakers included Ian Wise QC of Doughty Street Chambers and David Wolfe of Matrix Chambers. The event was attended by over 60 guests including representatives from Clifford Chance, Scope, the Children’s Society and the Council for Disabled Children.

The NAS Autism Legal Network is open to legal professionals, charities and academics with an interest in autism. For further information visit www.autism.org.uk/legalcampaigning or email legal.development@nas.org.uk

Source:  http://www.autism.org.uk/news-and-events/news-from-the-nas/autism-charity-raises-the-bar-for-legal-campaigning.aspx

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