Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 13:47 UK

Children's champion to step down

Kathleen Marshall
Ms Marshall said she was grateful for all the support she had received

Scotland's first children's commissioner has decided not to seek reappointment when her current term of office ends next April.

Kathleen Marshall has become known for her outspoken views on numerous issues, including the treatment of asylum-seeking children.

Ms Marshall said it seemed like "the right time to step down", after what would be five years in the post.

But she said there were still important issues to tackle before she left.

During her time as commissioner, Ms Marshall clashed with the UK Government by saying the state was terrorising the children of failed asylum seekers by carrying out dawn deportation raids.

I hope I have made a difference to the lives of children, especially those whose rights were most under threat
Kathleen Marshall

Her claims that "wee, quiet families" were suffering because they were easy targets for the Home Office were rebutted.

"It has been a great privilege to be Scotland's first commissioner for children and young people," said Ms Marshall.

"I hope I have made a difference to the lives of children, especially those whose rights were most under threat, such as asylum seekers, children with disabilities and those in care."

She said 10 years would have been too long to stay in the post, adding: "This seems the right time to step down as it is a natural break and the office is ready to consult on a new set of priorities."

Ms Marshall marked her first day in office as children's commissioner by questioning the need for anti-social behaviour measures, saying at the time that plans to tag youngsters and disperse groups of youths were punitive.

She was also known for her campaign to outlaw the smacking of children, a controversial issue in the early years of devolution, despite ministers later saying most people did not support such a ban.

She has also made calls to grant anonymity to teachers accused of abusing pupils, unless they were convicted.

Ms Marshall said she would be pursuing issues including disability, the children of prisoners and the UN's scrutiny of the UK's record on implementing child rights before the end of her tenure.

Ms Marshall's successor will be recruited by Holyrood's management team, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.

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