Day 2 of appeal against Named Person plans

A QC representing the Scottish Government has told judges hearing an appeal against the Named Person law that the scheme will not create interference in family life.

Alistair Clark QC, claimed that the presence of the Named Person law on the statute book “doesn’t interfere with human rights at all”.

He went on to say that the severity of any interference would be “at most minimal”. He also said that allowing families to opt out would “defeat the purpose of the scheme”.

In February 2014, Children’s Minister, Aileen Campbell said “the parent is under no obligation to engage with the named person” but the Government now seems to have conceded that there is, in fact, no opt out.

The Government QC also confirmed to the court that the Named Person law is not restricted to protecting children at immediate risk of harm. He said we are “moving on” from that. As recently as last month First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed the scheme was about protecting “the most vulnerable children in our society”.

Responding in court today on behalf of NO2NP supporters, Aidan O’Neill QC said there was, in fact, interference in private family life because there would be “a state functionary who has the power to interfere in the lives of every child in Scotland and in family life… the power to come between the child and their parents”.

He said the Named Person’s powers to obtain and share confidential data on families without consent or veto constituted further interference: “What we have heard is that this legislation has nothing to do with the protection of vulnerable children, because every child is potentially vulnerable. The basic aim is that the wellbeing of every child is to be promoted and safeguarded. That’s what parents do, that’s what parents are for. What is the social need that requires every child to have a named person?”

The judges have retired to consider their verdict, which is expected to take several weeks.