Campaign to Stop State-Appointed Guardians Overriding Scottish Parents Prepares for Supreme Court Appeal
The Christian Institute
Monday 07 September 2015
For Immediate Release
- State guardians ruling drives campaign towards Supreme Court appeal
- Named persons will need to ‘tread more carefully’ after ruling
- Scottish parents have ‘fewer legal rights and less privacy’ than other families
Scotland’s highest court has ruled against campaigners opposed to the Scottish Government’s scheme for a state-appointed guardian or ‘named person’ for every child.
The appeal, spearheaded by The Christian Institute, was rejected by the Inner House of the Court of Session which took the view that the legislation does not conflict with laws on privacy or data protection.
Responding to the judgment, Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute said he was disappointed but not surprised by the ruling because cases concerning fundamental rights usually end up in the Supreme Court.
“We are in a better position as a result of parts of this ruling. Those implementing the scheme will have to tread more carefully in the light of today’s judgment. But this is not enough. That’s why our Trustees will be actively considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.
“The Named Person scheme is completely different on the ground to the one the judges describe and our very real concerns have been brushed aside by the court as merely theoretical.
“The judges are being far too optimistic about how the scheme will operate, ignoring evidence to the contrary, including from Police Scotland which has referred to children being left in abusive situations while wellbeing assessments were conducted.
“That is why we must appeal to the Supreme Court to settle the matter once and for all.”
In its initial assessment of the judgment The Christian Institute noted a number of specific issues including:
- The lack of attention paid to the issue of privacy/family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- Confusion between the terms ‘welfare’ and ‘wellbeing’. Welfare carries emergency powers to intervene in families where there is a risk of significant harm. ‘Wellbeing’ is described in Government-funded guidance as “just another word for happiness”.
- The judgment says that it is lawful to refuse an offer of help from a named person but many councils have already set up procedures for “escalating” cases with extra scrutiny of parents who refuse to co-operate.
- The judges’ argument on data protection is a circular one appearing to make the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which incorporates the Named Person scheme, subject to the Data Protection Act – and vice-versa.
Mr Hart went on to note that the judgment helpfully overturned part of the ruling from Lord Pentland, the first judge to hear the case, thereby underlining that charities can in fact represent their members in holding public bodies to account.
Mr Hart concluded by reiterating both the intrusive and wasteful nature of the scheme.
“Appointing a state guardian for every child in Scotland has so far cost £61 million, money which could have been spent on police and social workers in the front line of protecting vulnerable children.
“We are committed to doing all we can to protect Scotland’s families from this well-intentioned but dangerous scheme. It simply isn’t right that under the Named Person scheme Scottish parents have fewer legal rights and less privacy than other families in Europe.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
The Christian Institute is a non-denominational national charity which since 1991 has been working on issues including religious liberty, marriage and the family, and Christian education.
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