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'Benign' Scottish named-person scheme ruled illegal

05 August 2016


Jubilant: Scottish campaigners against the named-person scheme celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Westminster after the ruling

Jubilant: Scottish campaigners against the named-person scheme celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Westminster after the ruling

CHRISTIAN campaigners have declared victory in their battle against the Scottish government’s named-person scheme, after the Supreme Court ruled last week that parts of the proposed programme would be unlawful.

The scheme would see every child in Scotland given a “named person”, normally a health visitor or teacher, as a single point of contact and advice.

It was due to be rolled out across the country at the end of August. Last week, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the project would breach children’s human rights by potentially sharing their data with other authorities without their knowledge.

The judges said that, while the overall intent of the scheme was “unquestionably legitimate and benign”, it could not be implemented until data-sharing and privacy issues were fixed.

In the unanimous judgment, the judges wrote that the first thing totalitarian regimes do is remove children from the influence of their parents, so as to indoctrinate them. “Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”

The ruling came after the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group began a legal challenge to the scheme. The group includes a number of Christian organisations concerned about the named-person scheme, including CARE and the Christian Institute. A spokesman for NO2NP, Simon Calvert, said: “This proposed scheme was intrusive, incomprehensible, and illegal.

“The ruling means that the Scottish government has been blocked from implementing this scheme on 31 August. It must scrap its plan for state snoopers with intrusive data-sharing powers. It has to go back to the legislative drawing board.”

CARE for Scotland’s spokesman, Dr Gordon Macdonald, said: “This is a stunning victory for parents and families across Scotland. Given the very real concerns about how the scheme was going to be implemented, it is doubly welcome the Supreme Court has today dealt this blow to the flawed named-person scheme.

“While well intentioned, the scheme was ill conceived and represented an attack upon the rights of parents.”

The scheme had already been piloted in some regions, including Edinburgh, but the Scottish government has now begun talks with charities and others in the public sector, including the NHS and police, on how to amend the scheme.

Scotland’s Education Secretary, John Swinney, has said that the programme will still be implemented, even if it can no longer happen to its original time-table. “The Supreme Court’s ruling makes clear that, while the principle of providing a named person for each child does not breach human rights, we need to do further work to ensure those performing the role have greater clarity about sharing information, as required by the court,” he said.

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