Council to appeal High Court ruling on term-time holidays

9th June 2016 at 16:00
Summer holiday
Isle of Wight says the Department for Education has asked it to challenge decision backing a father who took his daughter to Florida

Isle of Wight Council is to appeal against the High Court judgment in favour of a father who was fined for taking his daughter on holiday during term time.

Jon Platt was originally fined £120 for taking his daughter to Florida, but magistrates ruled that he had no case to answer because she attended school regularly during the rest of the year.

The local authority took the case to the High Court for clarification, and Mr Platt won the backing of the senior judges.

The ruling prompted the government to announce that it would consider making alterations to the law over absences, which comes under section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996.

Schools minister Nick Gibb has requested that the council return to court to appeal the decision, and has promised Department for Education funding and legal counsel for the application in either the High Court or Supreme Court.

Official request

An Isle of Wight Council spokesman said: "The minister of state for schools, Nick Gibb, has formally requested that the Isle of Wight Council makes an application for permission to appeal against the High Court judgment of 13 May, in relation to unauthorised school absence. As a result, the Isle of Wight Council has today formally submitted papers applying for permission to appeal.

"The request for the council to make an application for permission to appeal comes with a commitment from the Department for Education to meet the council's costs of applying to the High Court (and, if refused, to the Supreme Court) for permission to appeal, and other future costs. DfE counsel will make submissions in support of the application.

"If an appeal is granted by the High Court or, subsequently, the Supreme Court, the department has stated it will specifically seek to be joined as a party to the proceedings and take the lead in the appeal."

'Unbelievable' and 'outrageous'

Council leader Jonathan Bacon said: "Our initial response was not to expend further Isle of Wight Council money on pursuing an appeal.

"However, as a result of the formal request from the minister, the local and national importance of this issue, and the DfE's commitment to cover all the costs of the appeal and contribute to the council's previous costs, we have decided to lodge an appeal in order to resolve the issue for all."

In response, Mr Platt posted on Facebook: "UNBELIEVABLE!! The Isle of Wight Council, apparently on the instructions of the DfE, have JUST announced a few minutes ago an appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land! This is absolutely outrageous. A HUGE waste of taxpayers' money on an issue that is beyond any doubt. Utterly shocked."

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