Charlie Gard’s parents begin new legal bid to secure US treatment

British court has previously ruled that terminally-ill baby should be allowed to ‘die with dignity’

Charlie Gard’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard leave after a hearing at the High Court in London on Monday. Photograph:  Neil Hall/Reuters

Charlie Gard’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard leave after a hearing at the High Court in London on Monday. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

 

The parents of terminally ill baby Charlie Gard are preparing for another round in their fight to be allowed to take him abroad for treatment.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates, from Bedfont, west London, want a judge to rule that 11-month-old Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial in the US.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Charlie is being cared for, have said therapy proposed by a doctor in the United States, is experimental and would not help.

Great Ormond Street doctors say life-support treatment should stop.

Charlie’s parents asked the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, to consider their claims after losing battles in the the British courts, but the ECHR rejected their appeal.

The couple have now asked a high court judge in London to carry out a fresh analysis of their case.

Mr Justice Francis, who in April ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street doctors and decided Charlie should be allowed to “die with dignity”, oversaw a preliminary hearing in the latest round of litigation on Monday.

He told the couple that he had already analysed the case at a trial and would not rake over old facts. But he said he would consider any new evidence and would examine the couple’s arguments ”calmly and fairly”.

The judge, based in the family division of the high court in London, said Charlie’s parents should outline any new evidence they had. He said he would reconsider their arguments on Thursday.

‘Encouraging’ evidence

Lawyers representing Great Ormond Street bosses and a guardian appointed to independently represent Charlie’s interests told Mr Justice Francis they were struggling to find any new evidence.

Charlie’s parents interrupted the hearing at one point. Mr Gard yelled at a barrister representing Great Ormond Street bosses, saying: “When are you going to start telling the truth?”

Ms Yates told the judge: “He is our son. Please listen to us.”

Barrister Grant Armstrong, who led Charlie’s parents’ legal team, told the judge that hospitals in the US and Italy had offered treatment. He said seven international experts had supported the treatment the couple wanted Charlie to have.

Mr Armstrong said there was ”encouraging” evidence. He said Charlie’s case involved ”cutting-edge genetic science” and there was a ”good prospect” of further evidence producing a different result.

Lawyers representing Charlie’s parents, who are working for free, suggested another judge should analyse any fresh evidence.

Mr Justice Francis disagreed: ”I did my job. I will continue to do my job. If you bring new evidence to me and I consider that evidence changes the situation ... I will be the first to welcome that outcome.”

PA