Breastfeeding mum told to ‘use a bottle’ in court

Aileen Robertson with her 7 month old son Isaac, and the Jury Citation letter. Picture: Hemedia
Aileen Robertson with her 7 month old son Isaac, and the Jury Citation letter. Picture: Hemedia
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A BREASTFEEDING mum has told of her shock after court officials told her to “use a bottle” so she could still attend jury duty.

Aileen Robertson, 39, received a letter citing her for jury duty when her first-born son, Isaac, was only a few weeks old.

She filled in an exemption form asking for her to be excused as a breast-feeding mum.

But now she has received a letter telling her she is to attend court.

When she phoned the court service to explain she was still breastfeeding her seven-month-old, she was told it was not an acceptable reason to be excused because she could “use a bottle”.

And after explaining that it was still not an option, she was told a doctor’s note would be needed for an exemption.

The mum-of-one from Aberdour, Fife, said: “I got the letter earlier this week and I’d definitely be up for it if I didn’t have a seven-month-old baby to look after at home.

“The Court Service said to get around it I have to get a doctor’s note.

“The people were quite matter of fact about it and it seems to be the standard procedure as the doctor wasn’t really that surprised.

“While it’s not the fault of the staff at the court, there is an issue here about making breastfeeding mums jump through hoops in order to do what is best for their child.

“Breastfeeding is not an illness or medical condition, so why use up previous surgery time getting GPs to write up notes in such circumstances?

“With health services doing everything they can to promote breastfeeding, it does not make sense for the court service to make things more difficult.

“In my case, I do not have the option of expressing and giving him milk in a bottle because he simply won’t take it.

“I understand there is a need to encourage citizens to help the legal process, but this should not be at the expense of what is an important public health issue.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Court Service said Aileen had been given incorrect information from a court worker.

He said: “It is not our policy to request a medical certificate to support a request for excusal on the grounds of breastfeeding and we apologise for any suggestion that one is required.

“We simply need an application and the reason a request is being made.

“If there were any other medical grounds included for seeking an excusal, we would seek supporting documentation.

“Anyone else wishing to be excused would normally be asked to submit their reasons to the court for consideration and to include and relevant supporting documentation for consideration.

“The sheriff clerk will then consider those applications sympathetically.”

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