Named Person Policy: Not Illegal
3 September 2015, 15:14
Opponents of plans to appoint a ''named person'' for every child in Scotland have vowed to fight on after losing their latest court battle against the policy.
The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign said it would appeal a ruling from Scotland's top civil court dismissing their legal challenge.
The 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.
Those opposed argue the move breaches data protection laws and the human rights of parents.
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 have refused the appeal, stating the legislation does not breach human rights or European Union law.
A judgment issued today 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.''
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.
Dr Gordon Macdonald, parliamentary officer for Care, said: "We are extremely disappointed by the court's ruling.
"We remain convinced that under the proposals data protection laws and human rights laws will be breached, and this is completely unacceptable.''
The named person policy has already been rolled out out in parts of Scotland including Highland, Edinburgh, Fife, Angus and South Ayrshire.
Bill Alexander, Highland Council's director of care and learning, said: "The named person service ensures that families with any concerns about their child's wellbeing know where to take that concern, and that they get good advice and support.
``It is proven in practice, has been welcomed by parents and I am pleased that the value of the named person role is reaffirmed by today's decision.''