Highlands & Islands

'Named person' challenge appeal dismissed

Child playing with toys Image copyright PA

Opponents of plans to appoint a "named person" for every child in Scotland have lost their latest court battle against the policy.

No To Named Persons (NO2NP) argued the policy breached data protection and human rights laws.

But a panel of three judges at the Court of Session dismissed the campaigners' arguments as "hyperbole".

NO2NP has said it will now appeal to the Supreme Court in London.

The named person measure, contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, will assign a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of children under 18.

The Scottish government says the service will act as a safety net to help families and children if they need it, to speed things up and avoid families having to speak to numerous different services.

Initial petition

Lord Pentland refused an initial petition for the judicial review of the legislation at the Court of Session in January but campaigners appealed against the decision.

A panel of three judges who reconsidered the case in June has now refused that appeal, stating that the legislation does not breach human rights or European Union law.

The newly issued judgment said: "The mere creation of a named person, available to assist a child or parent, no more confuses or diminishes the legal role, duties and responsibilities of parents in relation to their children than the provision of social services or education generally.

"It has no effect whatsoever on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family. The assertion to the contrary, without any supporting basis, has the appearance of hyperbole."

Children's Minister Aileen Campbell welcomed the decision, and said she hoped the petitioners would take comfort from the findings.

She said: "As the ruling states, this policy was informed by experts in child welfare, health and education with the intention of putting the best interests of the child at the heart of decision-making."

'Appealing this ruling'

NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert said: "There is no question that we will be appealing this ruling.

"We do not believe that the judges engaged properly with the arguments we put forward, so we will take them to the Supreme Court.

"Ultimately we may even have to go to Europe. If the nature of the named person scheme was as the court described, then we would not have brought this action in the first place."

Among those involved in the legal challenge were the Christian Institute, the Christian charity Care and the Family Education Trust as well as individual academics and parents.

The named person policy has already been rolled out out in parts of Scotland including Highland, Edinburgh, Fife, Angus and South Ayrshire.

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