Outrage as Labour MSP uses Riggi child deaths to attack SNP

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Labour MSP Duncan McNeil has caused fury after claiming that the tragic deaths of the three Riggi children may have been caused in part by SNP complacency over home-schooling.

The MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde claimed that allowing the children to be schooled at home may have left them vulnerable.


Labour MSP Duncan McNeil has caused fury after claiming that the tragic deaths of the three Riggi children may have been caused in part by SNP complacency over home-schooling.

The MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde claimed that allowing the children to be schooled at home may have left them vulnerable.

The Scottish government has reacted angrily, accusing Mr McNeil of trying to make political capital out of the tragedy and describing the Labour MSPs comments as “inappropriate and unacceptable”.

The bodies of the three children were discovered last week by firemen who were investigating a gas explosion at the block of flats where they lived, the children had all suffered stab wounds.  Their mother, Theresa Riggi, was found seriously injured after jumping or falling from a second-floor balcony of the building in Edinburgh and has since been charged with their murder.

Police had been searching for Mrs Riggi after she fled with her sons and daughter last month.  The mother and children had been reported missing from their home in Aberdeenshire by Mrs Riggi’s ex husband on July 11.  A court had instructed social services to supervise the three children once they were found, and apply for protection orders if necessary.

Mr McNeil, the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde implied that home-schooling had left the children in danger and accused the SNP’s Keith Brown of complacency.

“Any inquiry should try to determine whether the home-schooling of the Riggi children led to any delays in the authorities picking up on the danger they were in.

“Whether it was a factor in this case or not, parents who educate their children in this way have to be accountable. Work has been carried out in England as part of the Badman review to tighten up home-schooling laws, and if there is a perception that the Scottish system is weaker than the English one then we must act.

“So I was disappointed by the complacent response from Schools Minister Keith Brown, when I raised concerns about home-schooling six months ago, and I would hope he would look again to see if we can make our system more robust.”

The Labour MSPs remarks were condemned by a spokesperson for Education Secretary Michael Russell who said that the whole of Scotland was shocked by the deaths of three innocent children.

The spokesperson said:
“Our police and justice system will do the thorough and professional job required in these horrific circumstances.

“At such an early stage of this very distressing case, Mr McNeil’s remarks seeking to make wider points about home-schooling are inappropriate and unacceptable.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson confirmed that current legislation already required local authorities to ensure the wellbeing of home-schooled children.

The spokesperson said:
“Irrespective of where a child is educated, councils have to protect their welfare.”

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