You Betrayed Thousands of Disabled Children, Mr Blair; Lifelong Labour Voter's Message to Premier over Special Needs Education

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Byline: GRAEME WILSON;JANE MERRICK

THE mother of an autistic boy launched a devastating attack on Tony Blair yesterday, saying she would never trust him again.

Maria Hutchings accused the Prime Minister of betraying her ten-year-old son and thousands of disabled pupils by denying them proper special needs education.

The lifelong Labour voter shared the podium with Michael Howard at a Conservative press conference as he pledged to halt the closure of special schools. Mr Howard said many parents felt the system worked against them, forcing their children into mainstream schools in the name of 'inclusion'.

Mrs Hutchings spoke of her struggle to secure a suitable education for her son, John Paul.

At one point she held up the Mother's Day card she had been given on Sunday by him - a boy education 'experts' claimed would never read or write.

'In 1997 Mr Blair emphasised education,' she said. 'John Paul was diagnosed the year Tony Blair came to power.

'I have lived through a nightmare of bureaucracy and lies.

This Government has broken me and so many others, they have brought us to our knees. I will never trust them again.

'I went to a mainstream school to see an autistic child benefiting from "inclusion".

'I found a child behind a 4ft white screen with an assistant for 20 hours a week - an assishavetant with no specialised training or education.' Mrs Hutchings's broadside came days after the Government was shaken by the furore over Margaret Dixon's seven-times cancelled shoulder operation.

She spoke out despite attempts by Labour to discredit her beforehand. …