Home educators were among the first to identify the threats to parents’ and children’s human rights posed by the Scottish Government’s GIRFEC / Named Person scheme (a clone of the failed English ECM / ContactPoint which had been initiated by the New Labour Westminster government).
In 2013, a Scottish home education charity commissioned lawyer and social worker Allan Norman of Celtic Knot to prepare a consultation response on its behalf during the passage of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill.
The legislation was subsequently passed in February 2014 without a single dissenting vote from MSPs, despite strong opposition from parents and young people who understood the implications of the information-sharing provisions within the Act.
A campaign group (NO2NP) was formed, and a coalition of charities and concerned parents sought judicial review of the offending Parts 4 and 5 of the Act. Their legal arguments were initially rejected by the Outer House, then Inner House, of the Scottish Court of Session, but on 28 July 2016 their appeal was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court, the highest legal authority in the UK.
The Scottish Government was given a 42-day deadline by the justices to bring its ‘deficient’ legislation into line with Article 8 of the ECHR or have it struck down, essentially neutering the role of the named person and consigning the controversial ‘wellbeing’ indicators and unfettered information-sharing to the dustbin of history.
Underlining the primacy of the family and the importance of “different upbringings”, the judgment provided a chilling reminder that
“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.”
In the light of the court’s landmark ruling, Allan Norman’s submission now looks remarkably prescient. Questions must surely be asked about why it was ignored, along with responses from legal bodies and grass-roots charities, in favour of unevidenced claims from state funded ‘chuggers’ – ironically the same ‘preferred stakeholders’ who are being exclusively consulted on how to get it right after getting it so terribly wrong.
It is an embarrassing and expensive mistake for the Scottish Government, which has squandered public money on legal fees to defend legislation which does not comply with human rights. It is also a humiliation for the Scottish Parliament, whose Members failed, individually and collectively, to protect the human rights of their constituents.
They should’ve listened to Lyndon.