In court today: Named Person challenge goes before judge

Tue, 11 Nov 2014

A legal challenge against Scottish Government plans to assign a named person to every child in Scotland begins in Edinburgh today.

The Christian Institute, along with other concerned organisations and parents, is taking the action after warning that the plans trample on family rights.

The judge, Lord Pentland, starts hearing the case today at the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.

‘Unjustified interference’

Leading human rights QC Aidan O’Neill has previously said the plans amounted to an “unjustified interference” with family and private life, and are based on the idea that children’s primary relationship for their wellbeing is with the state, rather than their parents.

He also has warned that the scheme fails to provide proper protections against “arbitrary and oppressive” powers which the Government may use.

Colin Hart, speaking for the No to Named Person (No2NP) campaign group, said: “The blanket nature of this law degrades the image of the family and derides the work of the vast majority of parents.

“It also encourages suspicion among professionals about the dangers parents represent to their children.”

Privacy

Speaking as the judicial review began, Glasgow mother Anne Cannon said she was concerned about the Named Person scheme’s impact on privacy.

In comments to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, she said it could damage the relationships between health visitors and parents, and may prevent young people getting the support they need.

Under the plans, every child from birth will receive a state guardian until the age of 18.

Share information

The Named Person will be able to share information with a wide range of public authorities and intervene without parental consent.

The Scottish Government intends that the scheme will be rolled out across the country in 2016. However it is already operating in some areas.

The legal action, in the form of a judicial review, is being taken by The Christian Institute, Christian charity CARE, Tymes (The Young ME Sufferers) Trust, and the Family Education Trust.

Private reports

Parents James and Rhianwen McIntosh and Deborah Thomas are also part of the legal proceedings.

The McIntoshes spoke out in June after they were told their child’s private medical reports would be shared with a state-employed named person.

Deborah Thomas, from near Comrie in Perthshire, said she first came across the Named Person scheme when her son was asked to fill in what he described as a “creepy and weird” survey at school – without her knowledge or consent.

Save families

Mr Hart, speaking about the legal case, said: “This is all about the fight to save families. Enormous issues are at stake.

“What could be more important than the rights of mums and dads to bring up their children how they see fit, not being dictated to by the heavy-hand of meddling and interfering politicians and their army of taxpayer-funded state monitors?”