Originally published in Christian Concern
In a victory for both freedom and the family, the widely-criticised Named Person scheme has been ruled unlawful by the Scottish Supreme Court.
Judges today said that the plans breach the right to privacy and a family life, under the European Convention of Human Rights. The court has given the Scottish government 42 days to rectify the legislation. The Scottish government has no opportunity to appeal.
Under the scheme, which would have been rolled out at the end of August, all children in Scotland would have been allocated a ‘Named Person’, such as a teacher or health worker, to act as a state-appointed guardian. The nominated individual would have been given access to the child’s confidential records and be expected to report any concerns to the police. The plans raised widespread concern about state control and interference with parental responsibility for their children.
The no to Named Persons Coalition (NO2NP), which mounted the legal challenge against the plans, told the Supreme Court in March that the ‘Named Person’ legislation authorised “unjustified and unjustifiable state interference with family rights”.
Its challenge to the scheme had previously been rejected by Scotland’s Court of Session (Scotland’s supreme civil court), which had dismissed the arguments as “hyperbole”. In a line from today’s judgment, the Supreme Court Justices said: “The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world.”
The Supreme Court stated that “within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way”. Its judgment is available for public viewing on YouTube.
Endorsement of family autonomy
Commenting on this, Colin Hart, Director of the Christian Institute, which is part of the NO2NP coalition, said: “This strong endorsement of family autonomy will be welcomed by families all across the UK, including Christian families, who sometimes sense a creeping intolerance from government officials.”
“The ruling protects families all across the UK from unwarranted invasion of their privacy by the state.”
“We urge local and national government agencies to read the ruling carefully and amend their policies and practices to ensure they properly respect the privacy and autonomy of innocent families.”