The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom has struck down Scotland’s plan to assign a government employee to every child to ensure – even if the family objects – each one meets the government’s goal of being “safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.”
The argument against Scotland’s Children and Young People Act, the “Named Persons” plan, was that the government does not have the right to give to its employees private information.
“The court struck down the information-sharing provisions because there was no way to interpret the legislation to make it compatible with human rights,” said a statement from the Christian Institute, which organized the legal challenge to the 2014 law.
There is no appeal, so the Scottish government must now decide whether it wants to adopt another law that might comply with the court’s decision.
“The Supreme Court has vindicated our judicial review of the Scottish government’s controversial Named Person scheme, ruling the plans unlawful,” the institute statement said. “In a historic decision the five judges, including two from Scotland, unanimously struck down the central provisions of the scheme.”
The organization noted, “It is the first time the Supreme Court has prevented a major piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament from coming into force.”
The justices pointedly observed, “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. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”
Under the plan as lawmakers outlined, beginning at the end of next month every child in Scotland was to be assigned a state guardian to monitor their “wellbeing.”
“This is a devastating blow for the Scottish government which sought to brush off all criticism of its Named Person scheme as ‘scaremongering,'” said Colin Hart, the director of the Christian Institute.
The court’s conclusion was that, “within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”
“This strong endorsement of family autonomy will be welcomed by families all across the U.K., including Christian families, who sometimes sense a creeping intolerance from government officials,” Hart said.
Polls showed two-thirds of the Scottish people believed it was an “unacceptable intrusion” into family matters.
The Institute’s analysis explains the law provided that personal information about children, young people and their parents was to be “shared” by the Named Person and “relevant public authorities.”
“The court noted that the functions of the named person amount to promoting the ‘wellbeing’ of the child or young persons but that ‘wellbeing’ is not defined in the 2014 Act. Instead, the legislation lists eight factors to which regard is to be had when assessing wellbeing. The factors, known under the acronym SHANARRI, are that the child or young person is: ‘safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, and included’. The court noted that these factors ‘are not themselves defined, and in some cases are notably vague.’ Given the SHANARRI indicators, the judges highlighted the ‘very broad criteria which could trigger the sharing of information by a wide range of public bodies and also the initiation of intrusive enquiries into a child’s wellbeing.'”
The group’s analysis noted the court’s concern that the act violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“There is an inextricable link between the protection of the family and the protection of fundamental freedoms in liberal democracies … Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people.”
The data-sharing plan and procedures under the law “are incompatible with the rights of children, young persons and parents under Article 8,” said the ruling.
The institute said, “If the Scottish government does want to bring forward new legislation and legally binding guidance to remedy the serious defects in the 2014 Act, this also provides an opportunity to minimize the risk of disproportionate interferences with the Article 8 rights.”
The institute warned that since officials assumed the law would become effective, they already had begun ignoring the privacy rights of parents and children.
“Now that the data sharing provisions have been found to be incompatible with the right to a private and family life, many parents will want to know whether their family’s data has been processed unlawfully. They should make Subject Access Requests to ascertain how their data has been processed. It is possible that this will lead to further litigation.”
WND already has reported on some of the developments connected to the now-failed proposal.
In one case, the Scottish government put cab drivers through a new training course in which they were told they must spy on children they drive to schools – even getting out of the cab and going in to talk with teachers in the schools if they hear something that is concerning.
The newest page in the government spying program was uncovered by an organized campaign that opposed the moves.
The group, called No2NP, or No to Named Persons, revealed a recording of a government official, Jim Terras, a Scottish Borders Child Protection Committee training officer, speaking about the new requirements for cab drivers, who often are contracted to take children to schools.
His comments came during a training day for volunteers under the GIRFEC, Getting It Right For Every Child, program.
“You will have a duty, a legal duty, to assist the named person. Right,” he said. “Now you can imagine the conversations I’ve been having whilst I’ve been doing taxi driver training. Right.
“We have over 600 taxi drivers, okay, are contracted to … transport young children, adults at risk of harm, you know to various places, and I have to explain to them that if they’re covered by the GIRFEC system…. they as taxi drivers also have a duty to tell us what’s been happening.
“This idea of what happens in the taxi stays in the taxi doesn’t exist anymore, you’ve got to tell us ’cause it’s a legal duty.”
He said the drivers have said, “It’s not our job.
“Now we’re saying ‘well it is now. If you’ve got a contract for the council.”
He explained how far drivers would have to go.
“If a child tells you something in the actual front seat of the car, okay, or behind you, that this happened last night, and all the rest of it … and you’re concerned about it …. A lot of them didn’t think to get out of the car at the school and go in and speak to the teachers. I had to explain to them that that was the step that they should take.”
Hear the instructions:
Under the program’s outline, the government worker would have the authority to make decisions for the child that the parents might oppose.
Queen’s counsel Aidan O’Neill explained the case.
“[It’s a] Big Brother law which threatens every family in the land and diminishes the rights and responsibilities of mums and dads to look after their children as they see fit,” he said.
A social worker, Maggie Mellon, has spoken out against the plan.
See her statement:
The law, she said, would “bring about the end of family life as we know it.”
WND has reported the concept of a government watchdog for each child comes from the philosophy of the United Nations.
“This law shows the natural progression for a country that has ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and attempts to live up to its treaty provisions,” said Michael Donnelly, director of international relations for Home School Legal Defense Association.
WND also reported when it was revealed that children were to be quizzed using “covert” psychological tests.
“Older children will face a series of questions on their home life, their sexual health and whether or not they feel close to their parents,” critics noted at the time.