Parents go to law for Catholic school

THE parents of a 12-year-old boy who claim that their son was refused a place at a Catholic school because of his religion are planning legal action.

Nathan Mackay, whose family are non-denominational, was denied a place at St Margaret's Roman Catholic Academy and is now on a waiting list. Iain and Shirley Mackay have instructed their solicitor to mount a legal challenge against the local authority, claiming that its decision breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that no one should be discriminated against on religious grounds.

They want Nathan to attend the school in Livingston, West Lothian, because of its reputation for strong discipline and its insistence on school uniform. They are seeking legal aid to bring their action in the Court of Session.

Cameron Fyfe, their solicitor, said the case could have a "fundamental effect" on denominational education in Scotland. "The family were very angry when they were refused the school of their choice. It is seen as a flagship school in their area, and is only five minutes from their home.

"It is where they want their son to be educated. If we win it would mean that the State could not discriminate in favour or against a child of any religion, whether they are Catholic, Jewish or of the Church of Scotland."

West Lothian council claims that Nathan, currently 37th on a waiting list, did not meet the criteria for entry because he did not attend an associated primary school. The decision was upheld at an appeal hearing. The education authority received 237 applications for 180 places available.

A spokesman said: "There is every sympathy with the family but the school was oversubscribed."