Father Who Took Daughter On Term-Time Holiday Found Guilty Of Rules Breach

Father Who Took Daughter On Term-Time Holiday Found Guilty Of Rules Breach

A father who fought a long-running legal battle over taking his child on a term-time holiday was on Friday found guilty over the unauthorised trip.

Jon Platt was convicted of failing to secure his daughter's regular attendance at school in a hearing at Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court.

Giving the judgment, magistrate Jeannie Walker said: "The circumstances of this case fall squarely into that breach of school rules."

Platt was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,000 costs plus a £20 surcharge.

He said afterwards he was "relieved that's it's over".

"This has gone on far too long and far to much money has been spent on it by me and the taxpayer," he said.

Platt said he has spent close to £30,000 on fighting the case, with additional funds covered by legal aid.

Figures disclosed to the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws have shown, as of May 10, the Department for Education had spent close to £140,000 pursuing the legal action.

Platt said the case will have implications for parents around the country.

"There were around 8.5 million unauthorised absences around the country in a single term.

"Every single one of those is, if the headteacher decided that's what the school rules should be, an unauthorised breach, all 8.5 million of those are criminal offences."

The case returned to Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court, where it began almost two years ago, after Mr Platt lost a landmark legal battle at the Supreme Court, the UK's highest court, earlier this year over taking his daughter to Disney World in April 2015 during school time.

Giving the ruling, Mrs Walker said: "The council has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the child was not attending school regularly on those dates of the holiday."

Summing up his case, Ben Rich, for the Council, said the Supreme Court had ruled that regular attendance means in according with the rules of the school.

The council has proved that the youngster did not attend on the relevant dates and was on an unauthorised holiday, he said.

"The Isle of Wight has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty of the offence."

Counsel for Mr Platt, Paul Greatorex QC, said: "The prosecution has not produced any evidence as to what the school rules are.

"There's nothing in writing. What are the school rules? Who knows? They are not there."

Mr Platt's barrister had also argued that his case came under one of a number of statutory exceptions which says that a pupil has not failed to attend school regularly if he or she lives more than two miles from their school and the council has failed to fulfil its duty to provide transport, meet the costs of transport or offer a move to a nearer school.

Mr Platt told the court that after he split from his daughter's mother in 2013, the youngster spent half her time at his house, around 3.6 miles from the school.

He argued he had not been offered transport or help.

The court also heard that Mr Platt had not applied for assistance. At the Supreme Court hearing in April, five justices unanimously allowed an appeal by education chiefs against an earlier ruling that Mr Platt had not acted unlawfully.

Mr Platt, who took his daughter on the Florida trip without the school's permission, was prosecuted by Isle of Wight Council after he refused to pay a £120 penalty.

But local magistrates found there was no case to answer.

Two High Court judges in London upheld the magistrates' decision, declaring Mr Platt was not acting unlawfully because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90%.

The council urged the Supreme Court to overturn the High Court decision, saying it raised important issues over what constitutes ''regular attendance'' at school.

The justices ruled in the council's favour, in a judgment clarifying what ''regular'' attendance at school means.

An abuse of process application by Mr Platt's barrister earlier on Friday was rejected by magistrates.


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