Michael Gove has been criticised after reportedly leaving his 11-year-old son alone in a hotel room while he went to a party.
The Tory MP and his wife, Sarah Vine, attended an event to mark the end of the Cheltenham Literary Festival in mid October.
The Sunday Mirror claimed Gove’s son, William, was found by the hotel’s night porter at 1.30am, asking where his mum and dad were.
A friend of Gove defended the former education minister, telling the BBC: “[Their son] wanted to watch TV rather than go to a dinner with his parents, he’s a mature and confident secondary school pupil so they were happy to leave him at the hotel under the supervision of staff.”
When reports came out that Gove left his son alone, parents took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
In response to the news, an NSPCC spokesperson said: “It can be a difficult decision to decide when children are old enough to be left alone and there are a whole host of things to think about.
“Parents need to consider whether a child would know what to do if something went wrong, and talk to their child and see if they are comfortable and confident about being left by themselves.
“There are no hard and fast rules but the NSPCC can offer advice and people can always phone the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 if they want to talk it through.”
UK law doesn’t state an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them “at risk”.
“Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone, e.g. at home or in a car,” the government website states.
“Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.”