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Legal Challenge Against Named Guardians Rejected

A legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s proposal to name guardians for every child in the country has been rejected by the top civil court in Scotland.

The move to grant each child a named guardian would see teachers or health care professionals become responsible for every child under the age of 18. The move, which comes under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act was opposed by the No To Named Persons (NO2NP)

The NO2NP challenged the move by the Scottish Government deeming the proposal “disproportionate and unjustified” as it supposedly breached data protection and was seen as an invasion of parents’ rights.

“Failed on All Points”

The proposal was challenged as it was claimed that the naming of a guardian would interfere with common law, and qualified as “unjustifiable State interference”. They also claimed that the rights lay with the law of the European Union on data protection.

Despite the claim by the campaign group, Lord Pentland stated that the case failed to meet any of the criteria that could lead to it being unlawful or challenged in the European Court.

When delivering his judgement, Lord Pentland said: "I have concluded that the petitioners' case fails on all points.

“Part 4 of the Act does not contravene Convention rights, EU law or fundamental common law rights.

"It is unnecessary to make a reference to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.”

He added: “The subject matter of the legislation is within the devolved competence of the Scottish Parliament."

Decision Praised

The verdict to throw out the case was praised by many MSP’s with.Children's Minister Fiona McLeod praising the decision and how it will impact families in Scotland. She said: “The ruling states that the policy does not contravene ECHR rights or EU law, was developed carefully over more than a decade with extensive input and wide support from experts and encourages professionals to work together.

“It also recognises that through prevention and early intervention the named person service seeks to put the best interests of every child at the heart of decision making.”

Jackie Brock, chief executive of the Children in Scotland charity, said: “Having a primary point of contact available to all children is the formalisation of practice that already exists.”

Further Legal Battle?

Despite the initial verdict a NO2NP spokesman reiterated their belief in the proposal being unlawful, and the group's’ determination to challenge the verdict. The spokesman said: "We are considering all options for appeal.

"We have the opinion of one judge on this matter but it is often the case that when such important and fundamental issues are being considered the matter goes before a bench of three or more.

"We were well aware when we embarked on this campaign that it could be a long and tortuous process involving more than one court case.

"We are prepared for that and are in this for the long haul."

He added: "We remain deeply concerned about the threats to the human rights of families to their privacy in their own homes as well as the threat to data protection laws as the state passes confidential family information to and from different public bodies.

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