A MAN spent Christmas Day morning sitting on the steps of Barnsley Town Hall protesting against forced adoption.

John Aveyard, 56, from Royston, was keen to raise awareness about the reality of adoption, after his four children were removed from him, split up and adopted.

He set up a table with four empty boxes and four candles, representing the four children he would not be sitting with around the Christmas table.

He said: “Christmas Day is the time of year you want to be with your children, watching them open their presents and see how happy they are and it’s my favourite time of year as a dad.

“For some parents, they miss out on this because their children are forcibly removed from them.

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“I want to raise awareness of this cruel system and call on the government to look at section 31 of the Children’s Act 1989.”

Section 31 of the Children’s Act 1989 stipulates that a court can grant a local authority a care order if they believe a child is likely to come into harm, even if nothing has happened to the child in question.

John said: “I am not denying that we need social services and I understand in some circumstances children to need to be taken away from their parents. What I do not agree with is a decision being made based on an assumption. It’s absolute madness, and how they can split up a family acting like Mystic Meg is insane.”