Campaigners to continue SNP state guardian fight

CAMPAIGNERS against the SNP government’s controversial plans to have state-appointed guardians for every child have vowed to fight on after losing their latest court battle against the policy.

The No To Named Person campaign group outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh last year. Picture: Gordon Fraser

The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) group said it would appeal a ruling from Scotland’s top civil court dismissing its legal challenge.

Under the plans, a single point of contact would be ­allocated, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for the welfare of each child – a measure ministers say will act as a safety net to help families and children if they need it.

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Lord Pentland refused an initial petition for the judicial review of the legislation at the Court of Session in January but campaigners, who say the plan gives monitoring power to the state, appealed against the ­decision.

However, a panel of three judges who reconsidered the case in June have refused the appeal, stating the legislation does not breach human rights or ­European Union law.

A judgment issued yesterday 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.”

However, NO2NP’s Simon Calvert, said it would now take the case to the Supreme Court – the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases – and would ultimately be prepared to pursue it at European level.

Mr 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.”

Scotland’s children’s minister Aileen Campbell, welcoming the decision, 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.”

Groups involved in the legal challenge such as the Christian Institute, the Christian charity Care and the Family Education Trust as well as individual academics and parents, restated their claim that the plan breached human rights ­legislation.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, parliamentary officer for Care, said: “We remain convinced that under the proposals data protection laws and human rights laws will be breached, and this is completely unacceptable.”

Scottish Conservative spokeswoman Liz Smith added: “The policy remains utterly unacceptable because of its intrusion on family life and because it diverts crucial resources away from the most vulnerable children.”