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Campaigners start court fight against child guardian law

A group campaigning against Government plans to appoint a named guardian for every child in Scotland will lodge papers in court today challenging the move.

MSPs approved legislation earlier this year which will mean everyone up to the age of 18 will have a ''named person'' - such as a health worker or headteacher - assigned to look out for their welfare and well-being.

The No To Named Persons (NO2NP) group, spearheaded by the Christian Institute, want to see the proposal challenged and are expected to lodge legal papers this morning at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Lawyers for the group have already written a letter informing the government that they are seeking a judicial review of section four of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.

Campaigners say the blanket nature of the named person provisions ''constitutes a disproportionate and unjustified interference with the right to respect for individual family's right to a private and family life''.

They claim the plan could be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

But the Scottish Government said the legislation was supported by a large majority of those who responded to the public consultation and was backed by a wide range of children's charities.

Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute and campaign spokesman, said: "This marks the beginning of a landmark case which has implication for every family in Scotland.

"We are making a stand for all mums and dads who are doing their best for the children they love.

"We are not prepared to stand by and watch as the roles of parents and their rights to a family life are diminished and trampled over by an authoritarian big brother government intent on making its presence felt in every living room in the land."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Named persons - usually a health visitor or a promoted teacher already known to the family - were first introduced in parts of Scotland following parents' requests for a single point of contact for advice or help when needed, to avoid having to re-tell their story to different services.

"Nothing in the legislation changes parental rights and responsibilities because we know that mothers and fathers are, with a very few exceptions, the best people to raise their children.

"The named person policy is already operating successfully in a number of areas across Scotland where many heads, deputes and guidance teachers already fulfil this role.

"The legislation will provide a consistent approach nationally to promoting, supporting and safeguarding the wellbeing of all of Scotland's children.

"We will continue to work with health boards, education authorities and others to promote best practice ahead of the national roll-out."

She added: "We are confident that the legislation is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The legislation was supported by the majority of responses to the public consultation, backed by a wide range of children's charities and professionals working daily to support families across the country, and endorsed by the Parliament.

"Any actions or advice from the Named Person must be fair, proportionate and respect rights with the aim of promoting, supporting and safeguarding the wellbeing of the child."

Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "Giving everyone up to the age of 18 a named person is not only completely unnecessary, but it undermines the responsibility of parents and families to an unacceptable degree.

"It also takes resources away from our most vulnerable children who are the very ones we should be trying to help.

"Instead, the system will leave us meddling in the lives of other children."

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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