Less than a week before an Isle of Wight father is due to appear at the Supreme Court over school fines, a letter has emerged from the Department for Education’s Minister of State for Schools stating the appeal could be withdrawn by the Isle of Wight Council.

In a letter (below) shown to Isle of Wight Radio which was sent to former Council Leader Jonathan Bacon last June, Nick Gibb MP said:

“…the Secretary of State may decide to withdraw from the appeal at any time she considers appropriate in the public interest, and I recognise that the Isle of Wight Council will also be entitled to withdraw the appeal if they consider it appropriate in the interest of the Island.”

A letter to Councillor Jonathan Bacon from Nick Gibb MP
A letter to Councillor Jonathan Bacon from Nick Gibb MP

The letter states the Isle of Wight Council could withdraw from the case.

Jon Platt, from Nettlestone, has already twice won a ruling in his favour after he didn’t pay a fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term time.

But the The Department for Education requested that Isle of Wight Council ask for the leave to appeal, and it will now be heard again at London’s Supreme Court next week.

Isle of Wight Radio understands the case will still go ahead.

Yesterday (Tuesday) the council’s new Executive Member for Children’s Services for the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Chris Whitehouse, who has repeatedly called for the case to be dropped, said:

“I have not changed my position on the school absences case, it should have been dropped immediately after the magistrates’ hearing. I am limited in what I can say formally about this case because of a legal agreement entered into by my predecessor on behalf of the council.

“I intend to take further independent legal advice and may issue a purely personal statement in due course.”

Meanwhile, speaking to Isle of Wight Radio earlier this week, Mr Platt said:

“It has been on-going for almost two years now. But no case involving school fines had ever got the High Court – and the Supreme Court.

“If the council’s Education Spokesman [Cllr Whitehouse] and the new leader of the Isle of Wight Council [Cllr Dave Stewart] doesn’t support this appeal then it should be left for me and the Department for Education to fight things out. I think that would be good thing.

“Perhaps the time has come for the Isle of Wight not to be involved? Maybe now it should just be me against the Department for Education?”

Councillor Bacon has asked the new Conservative administration for clarification of their views of the case.