Judgement opens way for Western Isles school closures
Controversial plans to shut schools on the Western Isles are to go ahead after a legal challenge by the Scottish government failed.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar made moves to shut Carloway Primary and end S1 and 2 provision at Shawbost two years ago.
Ministers opposed the closures and the comhairle sought a judicial review. It found in the local authority's favour.
The government's appeal against the review has now not been upheld by appeal judges.
A third school, Shelibost, was also part of the legal wrangling but parents of pupils at the school agreed to the closure to end uncertainty over where their children would be educated.
The comhairle has welcomed the latest development.
Catriona Stewart, education and children's services chairwoman, said the judgement confirmed communities were treated fairly and the comhairle acted in accordance with the law.
She said: "It clearly demonstrates that the consultation process was rigorous, open, transparent and fair.
"This has been a long process and it is in everyone's interest that a conclusion has now been reached."
Carloway has 15 pupils and Shawbost S1/S2 has 35.
Education Secretary Michael Russell said he was disappointed with the ruling and wished that it had been possible to reach agreement with the comhairle to keep the schools open.
He added: "I know that the comhairle will be sensitive in dealing with the difficult process of closure and with the communities and parents who will be devastated by this news."