Government spent £140,000 of taxpayer's money on term-time holiday court battle

Jon Platt lost his legal battle at the Supreme Court Credit: PA

The government paid out nearly £140,000 in taxpayer's money pursuing a court case against a father who took his daughter on holiday during term time, new figures show.

The revelation comes as the case, which was closely watched by families across the country hoping for cheaper family holidays, returns to Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court.

A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year backed the government's position against unauthorised absences, but figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show that the government spent the equivalent of six newly-qualified teachers' salaries pursuing the case.

As of May 10, the Department for Education (DfE) bill for the court cases was £139,891.93, the figures show.

In 2015, Jon Platt was fined £120 by his daughter's school on the Isle of Wight after he took her out of class to go on a seven-day holiday to Disney World in April that year.

He refused to pay the fine and local magistrates ruled he had no case to answer over the unauthorised family trip.

But education chiefs pursued the case to the High Court, which backed the magistrates' decision, and then on to the Supreme Court, where a panel of five Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled in favour of the Isle of Wight Council.

The ruling backs the government's position on unauthorised absences from school Credit: PA

The DfE said it was pleased the Supreme Court had agreed with its position and removed uncertainty around term-time trips for schools and councils.

But Mr Platt said he thought the money could have been better spent on education.

The Supreme Court decision means the original case must now go back to be heard again by the magistrates.

A breakdown of figures obtained under the FoI request shows:

  • Total costs incurred by the DfE was £53,654.90

  • Of which, the High Court case constitutes: £1,872

  • While the Supreme Court case constitutes: £51,782.90

In addition, the department reimbursed the Isle of Wight Council a total of £86,237.03.

That includes £71,606.03 for the Supreme Court case, and £14,631 to cover Mr Platt's costs in the High Court proceedings, which the council had been ordered to cover.