Coleraine man loses legal battle

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Parents could face a fine or prosecution if they take their children out of school for even half a day without permission following a landmark ruling by the UK’s highest court on April 6.

Five Supreme Court justices ruled against father Jon Platt, originally from Coleraine, who took his daughter to Disney World during school term-time in a decision which will have a major impact on schools and parents across the country.

In April 2015, businessman Jon Platt, took his daughter out of her school on the Isle of Wight without permission for a seven-day trip to Florida.

The father was fined for doing so and later prosecuted by the Isle of Wight council for refusing to pay the £120 penalty.

However, local magistrates found there was no case to answer, and the council took its case to the High Court in London.

At the High Court hearing in 2016, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mrs Justice Thirlwall dismissed the council’s renewed challenge and said the magistrates were entitled to take into account the “wider picture” of the child’s attendance record outside of the dates she was absent for the holiday.

The judges declared Mr Platt was not acting unlawfully because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90 per cent.

The Isle of Wight council appealed to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, with the backing of the government.

During court proceedings today, the Supreme Court upheld the challenge, overturning the High Court’s decision.

Speaking after the ruling was given, Mr Platt said he was “not at all surprised” at the judgment.

He said: “I’m pleased that they acknowledged the judgment doesn’t go on to say what the school rules should be.

“Schools need to think very carefully about what these rules should be.

“Some have policies that mean that every day missed is a criminal offence.”

Mr Platt’s case must now return to the magistrates’ court in light of today’s ruling.