A BASINGSTOKE mum whose holiday to Tunisia was cancelled because of the terrorist attacks is being taken to court because she had to reschedule the break during school term-time.

Nikki Hotston had booked a two-week holiday for her family to Tunisia in August last year during the school holidays.

But following the shooting on June 26, which killed 38 people, the holiday was cancelled.

Mrs Hotston, a mother-of-two, was given alternative options during the school holidays, but they were all long-haul flights which she did not feel were appropriate for her three-year-old son Riley who has special needs.

So instead she chose a cruise break starting on September 2 for two weeks, meaning her seven-year-old daughter Grace Hill would miss two weeks of school.

The 24-year-old from South Ham asked Castle Hill Infant School if this was okay, and said she was given verbal permission for the absence due to the exceptional circumstances.

But whilst the family was away, Grace’s holiday form was refused and Mrs Hotston returned to discover she would be fined.

She and her husband Steve received the fine in October, and tried to speak to the school with regards to appealing, but said no information was provided.

The couple paid the fine in January this year, and thought that was the end of the matter.

But on May 6 they were shocked to discover that the fine had been refunded because it had been paid too late.

Last Friday the couple received a letter from Hampshire County Council summoning them to Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court today.

Mrs Hotston said: “We have tried to speak to the office and headteacher but they said they don’t know the process because we are the first parents this has happened to. I think it’s really bad bearing in mind we were meant to go in August. We felt that we needed a family holiday all together and we feel like we are being punished for that.”

The letter from Hampshire County Council warned that the couple could be fined up to £2,500 for the absence, which also includes two weeks which Grace had off sick after having her tonsils removed.

The mother has had to rush around to find legal representation because she was given such short notice of the court hearing, but hopes that following the High Court case last week backing a father who took his daughter out of school to go to Disney World, that the court will rule in her favour.

She said: “We are hoping now that it will get quashed.”

Mrs Hotston said Grace has good attendance at 97.7 per cent over three years, and added: “Me and my family needed a well-deserved break due to a very stressful period in all our lives.”

Alison Story-Scrivens, headteacher at Castle Hill Infant School, in Winklebury, said: “I am unable to comment on individual cases. However, we are committed to promoting regular attendance at school, reflecting the inextricable link between good attendance and educational attainment.”