Taxpayers face huge legal bill for named persons The Times – 12/11/16
Taxpayers may be forced to pay out £500,000 after the Scottish government’s named person scheme suffered another defeat at the hands of the UK Supreme Court.
The five judges who ruled the scheme a breach of human rights earlier this year, blocking it from coming into force, have now issued an order requiring the government to foot the legal bills incurred by those who brought the court case.
The successful litigants are part of the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group and their costs are estimated to top £250,000. The group says the Scottish government’s bills will also be substantial, potentially taking the total cost to taxpayers to about £500,000.
NO2NP claims the legal bills are a further waste of money in addition to about £61m allocated so far to the named person scheme, which would assign a state-appointed guardian for every child up to 18. Some local authorities have said it could cost them £2m to implement the scheme.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert described the ruling as “a total and utter vindication of the legal action”, underlining how flawed the scheme is.
“Had the judges agreed with the government spin that they basically won the case and just had to make a few tweaks to the named person law, the court would not have awarded us our costs,” he said.
“The judges consigned the data protection breaches to the legislative dustbin, forcing the government to shelve the scheme for at least a year while they try to rewrite their proposals. And when they eventually come back, it will be with a much-diluted scheme which will be far more limited than the one proposed.”
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “This is a very considerable sum of taxpayers’ money which, I am sure the public will agree, would have been much better spent on the most important priority of raising attainment in our schools.
“The named person policy has been flawed from the beginning. The Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year made clear that the data-sharing aspect of the policy was unlawful — something which undermines the Scottish government’s whole approach to this wrong-headed policy that nobody wants.”
A Scottish government spokesman said: “The policy aim of providing a named person service has been judged by the Supreme Court to be entirely legitimate. The Supreme Court’s ruling requires changes to be made specifically to the information-sharing provisions of the 2014 act. The nature of the ruling means that it is likely that Scottish ministers may incur costs at a level yet to be determined.
“Ministers remain absolutely committed to the named person service.” sunday times