QC: Named Person scheme is state intrusion into families

A leading human rights QC has told a court that plans to assign a named person to every child in Scotland are a form of “state intervention” in the family.

Aidan O’Neill QC said the plans are not about protecting children who are at risk of serious harm, because they are not based on “assessment of need”.

O’Neill was speaking at a judicial review brought by The Christian Institute and other concerned groups and parents.

Undue interference

Speaking outside the court yesterday, James McIntosh, who is a co-petitioner in the case, said parents should be able to raise children without “undue interference”.

And Alan Cochrane, The Telegraph’s Scottish Editor, said the “universal nature” of the proposals “mystifies many”.

“Why is every under-18 child in the land included and not simply those deemed to be most at risk”, he asked.


Presenting the arguments to judge Lord Pentland, O’Neill said: “The named person provision does not allow for opt-out. They are compulsory in application and are not necessary in terms of child protection.”

He commented: “Nobody is denying child protection is increasingly important. That is a completely different thing from the state insisting on particular views of what constitutes a child’s well-being”.

O’Neill described the scheme as a “form of state intervention” involving “the collating of information on children”.


James and his wife Rhianwen McIntosh were outside the court yesterday. Mr McIntosh commented: “All parents would like to think they’re doing a good job.

“We recognise we make mistakes and can do things better but we would like the opportunity to bring our children up ourselves without undue interference.

“Rather than spending millions on this named person legislation, why not spend the money on hard-pressed and over-stretched social work departments?”

‘Wide support’

Conservative MSP Liz Smith has also spoken out against the plans, saying the “vast majority of parents across Scotland are doing a thoroughly good job of bringing up their children, and they should be allowed to continue doing so without any intervention from the state”.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent in March, and the Government claimed there was wide support for the plans.

The legal action is being taken by The Christian Institute, Christian charity CARE, Tymes (The Young ME Sufferers) Trust, the Family Education Trust and concerned parents.

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