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Sunday, 13 August, 2000, 04:13 GMT 05:13 UK
Schoolgirl launches human rights case

The case could be a first in English legal history
An expelled schoolgirl could make legal history by using the Human Rights Act to take action against her school.

The girl's parents say the school's decision to expel their 15-year-old daughter a year before her GCSE exams could do irreparable damage to her education, according to The Observer newspaper.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is from a school in the south east of England.

The paper reports that she was expelled on the last day of the summer term and will appear before magistrates this week on a minor criminal charge.

Fair hearing

The Human Rights Act, to be brought in October, will enshrine the rights and freedoms of the European Convention of Human Rights into English law.

The girl's case is expected to be the first of a series of cases involving education and gay rights which will test the limits of the act when it comes into force in October.

What is the point of an appeals process if that can be overridden?

Solicitor David Ruebain

It will test Article 6 of the Convention - the right to a fair trial.

The government's new procedures for appealing against exclusions have come under fire for not giving enough rights to children or parents.

Education Secretary David Blunkett announced last month that schools have the right to override the appeal process if the child was considered a threat to others.

Threat

But the girl's solicitor David Ruebain told The Observer changes to the right of appeal against exclusions made it difficult for expelled children to get a fair hearing.

"There is a view that the new guidance is a breach of Article 6," Mr Ruebain told the paper.

"What is the point of an appeals process if that can be overridden?"

The girl cannot appeal against her exclusion until the start of the new term by which time the new exclusion policy will be in place.

By the time her case comes to court the human rights act will also be in force.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Education
The child protection blacklists
08 Aug 00 | Education
Legal threats over school bullying
01 Aug 00 | Education
Expelled pupils 'to stay out'
01 Jun 00 | Unions 2000
Action on exclusion of violent pupils
07 Jun 00 | Scotland
Wallace consults on human rights
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