Supreme Court beckons for Named Person challenge as judges reject calls to put Scottish families first

The Inner House of the Court of Session has rejected the appeal against the introduction of the Named Person scheme, ruling that the legislation does not conflict with human rights or data protection laws.

There are some positives. The court seems to agree that parents should be able to reject unwanted approaches from the Named Person and that data sharing powers should not be extended beyond current law. Unfortunately that’s not what the legislation says. We believe the court is taking too optimistic a view of the legislation and how it will operate in practice.

The judgment states that a Named Person is unable to interfere in family life and can only make “an offer of help, which may simply be rejected”. But the legislation gives a Named Person broad powers to interfere without parental consent.

The court describes the aim of the scheme as ‘the promotion of child welfare’. But it’s ‘wellbeing’ that is at the heart of the Named Person scheme, not welfare. The judges say this distinction “is not easy to grasp” but actually there’s a stark difference. Welfare approaches use ‘significant harm’ as the threshold for state intervention in family life, whereas Government funded guidance on the Named Person scheme says wellbeing is just another word for ‘happiness’.

Responding to the judgment a NO2NP spokesman confirmed that the ruling would be appealed: “We do not believe that the judges engaged properly with the arguments we put forward so we will take them to the Supreme Court. Ultimately we may even have to go to Europe.”

Contrasting the scheme portrayed in the judgment with the legislation itself he said: “If the nature of the Named Person scheme was as the court described, then we would not have brought this action in the first place.”

Adding: “To force a state-appointed guardian on every child in Scotland irrespective of need is a grossly disproportionate course of action.

“The Scottish Government’s plans are uninvited, unwelcome and undemocratic. They are a clear and unjustifiable intrusion into the lives of hardworking mums and dads trying to do their best for their children.

The NO2NP statement also provided a reminder of the many professional bodies – representing teachers, social workers and solicitors to name but a few who are opposed to the scheme. And the fact that 98% of individual respondents to the Government’s own consultation said the guidance was not clear.

The threat to the human right of families to privacy in their own homes has not gone away. We will not be deterred – the campaign to protect families all over Scotland from undue state interference continues.

The judgment is certainly disappointing but we have always said this could end up in the highest courts.

And as we mobilise for the next stage in the legal battle we know that the wider campaign against the scheme will continue to build on the momentum we have seen so far.

Teams of activists are taking to the streets. The petition is fast approaching 13,000 and at our public meetings all over the country, the story is the same – the more people hear about the Named Person scheme, the more people are saying ‘No’.

Read the press release.