Criminal charges against couple are dropped by local authority

Human rights group Liberty has said the decision to drop charges against a couple over their son’s school attendance is a victory for common sense.

Earlier this week, Essex County Council confirmed that it would not be in the public interest to pursue the case against James and Dana Haymore.

The couple, who had been due to stand trial in October, had previously claimed that the decision to prosecute violated human rights laws.

The row had erupted after the pair, originally from the USA, had been refused permission to take their 11-year-old son back to America for his great grandfather’s memorial service.

Initially they were issued with a fine for their son’s “unauthorised absence” but refused to pay on principle, prompting the local authority to press charges.

The Haymores argued that this was in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – because it affected their and their children’s right to a family life.

James Welch, Liberty’s Legal Director, said: “With a little helping hand from the Human Rights Act, common sense has prevailed.

“Criminalising parents for taking children out of school for important family events was hardly the best use of council resources, court time or public money.”

Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “This is an unusual situation but we have chosen to be pragmatic and accept that continuing with the prosecution serves little purpose and will cost the council money.”

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