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31 January 2017, 18:23
The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on a landmark legal battle between education chiefs and a father who took his daughter on holiday in term-time without her headteacher's permission.
A local authority, backed by the Education Secretary, argued that a child's unauthorised absence from school ``for even a single day, or even half a day'' can amount to a criminal offence.
A QC for the father, 46-year-old Jon Platt, described the submission as a new and radical interpretation of the law which was absurd and would ``criminalise parents on an unprecedented scale''.
The clash came as Isle of Wight Council appealed to the highest court in the land against a High Court ruling in May last year clearing Mr Platt of failing to ensure his daughter attended school regularly, as required by section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996.
The council prosecuted Mr Platt after he refused to pay a £120 penalty imposed by the council for taking his daughter on a seven-day family trip to Disney World in Florida in April 2015.
Local magistrates found there was no case to answer, and the council took its case to the High Court in London.
But two judges, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mrs Justice Thirlwall, upheld the magistrates' decision and declared in May last year that Mr Platt was not acting unlawfully because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90%.
The decision caused a surge in term-time bookings all over England.