MSP: ‘Scots smacking ban would infringe on parental freedom’

Criminalising smacking in Scotland would remove parental rights and hand them to the state, an MSP has warned.

Gordon Lindhurst, a lawyer as well as an MSP, dismantled the Scottish Government’s arguments for a ban, before accusing it of being underhand in its tactics to outlaw smacking.

Writing for Scottish Legal News, he said that rather than banning assault on children (which is already illegal), the proposal aims to rebrand loving parental discipline as ‘assault’.

‘Fundamental freedoms’

The Scottish advocate also points out that despite John Finnie MSP’s claims that a ban would not criminalise parents, removing the current legal defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ would “subject parents to criminal liability”.

He added that there is a longstanding principle “that parents, rather than the state, should have primary responsibility for their children and that intervention by the courts in family matters should be a last resort”.

As evidence, he cited the recent UK Supreme Court judgment against the Scottish Government’s intrusion into family life through its Named Person scheme.


Lindhurst’s comments were welcomed by the Be Reasonable campaign who oppose the smacking ban.

A spokesman said: “Parents will be pleased to receive Mr Lindhurst’s support and we look forward to many more MSPs speaking out in the months to come as this debate is thrust to the forefront of the political agenda.

“Many MSPs have no wish to criminalise loving mums and dads for reasonably chastising their own children.

“How much police time would be wasted in pursuing decent families while real cases of concern slip through the already overstretched safety net?”

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