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Parents to sue after child refused place in UK Catholic school

    The parents of a 12 year old boy are suing the Catholic school that refused his admission to a Catholic school on religious grounds.
    Iain and Shirley Mackay, who belong to no religious denomination, want their son Nathan to attend St Margaret's Academy in Livingston, West Lothian. They are challenging the decision by West Lothian education authority on the grounds that it breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.
    A spokesman from the education authority confirmed that the placement request had been refused, and this decision had been upheld at appeal. He said the school had been greatly oversubscribed, and it had been necessary to admit children against strict criteria, which included their religion, because of the school's denominational status.
    The Catholic Education Commission, which advises church schools, defended the right of education authorities and church schools to give priority to Catholic children.
    Spokesman John Oates said: "Catholic schools exist primarily to serve the needs of Catholic parents and Catholic children. Where a school is oversubscribed because of its appeal to parents, then the local authority has every right to prioritise on the grounds of whether a child is Catholic."
    The family's Glasgow-based solicitor Cameron Fyfe told the BBC: "At the interview the parents were specifically asked was Nathan a baptised Catholic. They take the view they would not have been asked that if it had not been relevant. Other children were accepted after Nathan was refused and these other children were baptised Catholics."
    Protocol 1, Article 2 states that no person shall be denied the right to education and Article 14 states that the employment of rights secured by the convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as religion.
   
ICN
   
9-Apr-01