‘Invasive’ state guardian plan set to be challenged in court

Thu, 27 Mar 2014

An ‘invasive’ scheme to give every child in Scotland a “named person” is set to be challenged in court by The Christian Institute.

Under the Scottish Government plan all children, from birth up to the age of 18, will be assigned a state guardian – such as a health worker or teacher.

Lawyers for the Institute have sent a letter to the Government giving details of the proposed legal action and said that MSPs are overstepping their powers and authority with the scheme.

Undermine

The Institute is set to launch a judicial review to challenge the named person proposals, which are contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.

The first stage of the legal action is expected to cost £30,000, and funds have been raised following an appeal for public donations.

Colin Hart – the Institute’s Director – says the named person scheme “undermines the rights and responsibilities of ordinary mums and dads”.

Invasion

Hart described the named person plans as “an invasion of the most grotesque nature which undermines the rights and responsibilities of ordinary mums and dads who are trying their best to raise their children in the best way they see fit”.

“In the circumstances”, Hart added, “we are seeking an undertaking that the Scottish Government will not bring the Act into force pending the outcome of this legal action which will commence shortly”.

He said it was likely that the legal action would begin next month, and commented: “There’s no legal reason why we couldn’t do it next week, but there is a good reason to get as many parents’ stories involved as possible and we’ve already got a number of parents who want to be part of the legal action.”

Human rights

Top human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC has said in a legal opinion that the plans amounted to “unjustified interference” and “may be unlawful”.

He explained that the scheme may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, which says the State should respect “private and family life”.

However the Scottish Government defended its plans saying: “We are confident that the legislation is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights”.

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