Challenge to child protection bill

A religious group is planning to take legal action against plans for a state- appointed “guardian” for every child in Scotland.

Lawyers have asked ministers to delay the measures until the case is heard in the Court of Session.

Last month legislation was passed that means everyone up to age 18 will have a “named person”, such as a health worker or head teacher, to ensure their welfare.

While supported in some quarters, the measures in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act have been criticised as an intrusion into family rights.

The Christian Institute has raised £30,000 for the legal challenge following a public appeal. It accuses ministers of acting illegally and exceeding their authority. It is also claimed the law could contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

Christian Institute director Colin Hart said: “It is an invasion of the most grotesque nature which undermines the rights and responsibilities of ordinary mums and dads who are trying their best to raise their children in the best way they see fit.

“We are seeking an under taking the Scottish Government will not bring the act into force pending the outcome of this legal action, which will begin shortly.”

The Christian Institute said donations had been received from over 70 sources, including Christian Action Research and Education, Scotland for Marriage and the Family Education Trust, and it had the support of people from the Highlands and Perth and Kinross where the “named person” scheme was piloted.

Mr Hart said: “We are being told of horror stories where state monitors have imposed their unwanted and unwarranted presence in the lives of families.”

Tory MSP Liz Smith said: “It has been clear for some time that the ‘named person’ part of the bill is highly controversial and that many groups, including those representing parents, consider it will be open to all kinds of legal challenges.

“That is the very strong advice given in evidence by organisations like the Law Society, Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are confident the legislation is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights. Families are not required to accept advice or offers of help from the named person. Any actions or advice from the named person must be fair, proportionate and respect rights with the aim of safeguarding the wellbeing of the child.”