Supreme Court will rule on SNP plans for named guardians

The government measure assigns a 'named person' to look out for the welfare of children under 18. Picture: TSPL

The government measure assigns a 'named person' to look out for the welfare of children under 18. Picture: TSPL

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CAMPAIGNERS against the Scottish Government’s plans to appoint named guardians for children are to take their battle to the Supreme Court next year.

A legal challenge at Scotland’s top civil court failed earlier this year, but the No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group has secured a hearing at the Supreme Court in London in March.

The government measure, contained in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, assigns a “named person” – such as a teacher or health visitor – to look out for the welfare of children under 18.

NO2NP argues that ministers have exceeded their powers and are in breach of data protection laws and the human rights of parents, but a judge at the Court of Session refused a petition for the judicial review of legislation back in January.

The campaign group has stated it could even take the case to European courts in search of a favourable review.

Simon Calvert, campaign spokesman, said: “The right to a family life unhindered by state interference is of such vit­al importance that we feel we have no option but to bring the matter before the Supreme Court. Fundamental issues are at stake here for families across Scotland, and it is right that we use all the legal measures at our disposal to stand up for those families and their right to a private life.”

He added: “Mums and dads must be allowed to bring up their children as they see fit and not according to government checklists.”

The appeal is based on three areas where NO2NP believes the Court of Session “erred”. It centres on the principles of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, interpretation of data protection law and what powers are reserved to Westminster.

Calvert said: “We do not believe that the judges engaged properly with the arguments we put forward, so we are taking them to the Supreme Court. Ultimately we may even have to go to Europe. The judgment states that a named person is unable to interfere in family life but merely able to make ‘an offer of help, which may simply be rejected’.

“But the legislation gives a named person broad powers to interfere without parental consent. Ordinary mums and dads, doing their best to bring up their families, have been at the forefront of this challenge to state-sponsored auth­oritarian legislation which undoubtedly will reduce some parents to the role of helpless spectators in the lives of their children.”

Last night a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Twice this year, the courts have rejected this petition and ruled that the legislation covering the Named Person does not contravene ECHR rights or EU law. Both rulings found the 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.

“The named person role was introduced to provide a single point of contact for families and builds on the supportive role that teachers and health professionals have long offered to children, young people and parents.”

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