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Forty Christian schools who say there is a 'Biblical mandate' for smacking their pupils today failed to persuade to...
Forty Christian schools who say there is a 'Biblical mandate' for smacking their pupils today failed to persuade top judges that the government ban on corporal punishment amounts to a violation of human rights.

The test case was spear-headed by Phil Williamson, head of the independent Christian Fellowship School in Liverpool, who argued the ban breached the right of parents to decide what is best for their children and the freedom of religion enshrined in the Human Rights Convention.

Amongst other things, his lawyers pointed to Biblical texts including the Book of Proverbs 13:24 which states: 'He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.'

Physical punishment was banned in state schools in 1986 and the 1996 Education Act extended it to cover the country's 200-odd fee-paying schools.

Mr Williamson, supported by the Christian Schools Trust, lost a high court fight last year for the right to mete out corporal punishment to pupils with the agreement of their parents.

And that decision was today upheld by top judge, Lord justice Buxton, sitting at London's appeal court with Lord justice Rix and Lady justice Arden.

Dismissing the appeal, the judge said: 'I find persuasive none of the arguments put before us for holding that the Convention prevents the state from forbidding the infliction of corporal punishment by teachers in the circumstances described in the evidence in this case.'

Although the court expressed no view on the moral rights and wrongs of corporal punishment, the judge rejected claims that the ban conflicted with various provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Paul Diamond, for Mr Williamson, had earlier told the court that corporal punishment was 'Biblical'.

The intention was to reserve it for occasions when pupils were guilty of a 'severe moral offence' and corporal punishment was seen as 'corrective' rather than a punishment by the Christian schools.

Physical punishment in the form of a slap on the buttocks with a flat paddle would be given 'lovingly', only rarely and in strictly controlled circumstances, the judges were told.

Lord justice Buxton said the Christian schools were 'adamant that there was no question of beating in the traditional sense' and that 'smacking was closer to the mark'.


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