A DAD and mum are to appear side by side in court to fight a £120 fine handed to them for taking their son out of school to attend a family memorial in the USA.

City worker James Haymore, 34, and his wife Dana, 32, refused to pay the fine after they took their 11-year-old son Toby out of Chancellor Park Primary School for six days – without authorisation from headteacher Claire Mills. The family then went to the memorial service in California at the end of December.

Mr and Mrs Haymore, of Sandford Mill Drive, Chelmsford, first appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court. They feel the case is a blatant breach of their family’s human rights.

They now face trial and the prospect of a fine, up to £1,000, or even prison, if they are found guilty of failing to ensure their child attended school regularly.

This is the first high-profile case of its kind to go before the courts since former Education Secretary Michael Gove introduced tough new term-time rules last year.

Headteachers can only grant children leave in “special circumstances”.

And this case didn’t qualify, according to the head.

The Haymores are being advised by human rights group Liberty. Rosie Brighouse, legal officer for the group, said: “Common sense must prevail here.”

The trial is set for October.