Charlie Gard’s parents ‘feel stripped of their rights’

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Jul 14, 2017
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Connie Yates and Chris Gard stormed out of a hearing at the High Court yesterday

Peter Nicholls/Reuters

The parents of an 11-month-old brain damaged child who is being kept alive by doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital told a High Court judge yesterday that they felt “stripped of their rights”.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates want Mr Justice Francis to rule that their son Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial in the US. But specialists at Great Ormond Street say that the therapy is experimental and will not help. They say that life-support treatment should stop.

The couple from west London are mounting the latest stage of their fight at a hearing in the family division of the High Court. They have already lost battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. They were also unable to persuade judges at the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.

The couple claim there is new evidence and they want Mr Justice Francis to carry out a fresh analysis of the case. 

A lawyer for the hospital told the judge that the couple did not believe there was any role for a court. “Charlie’s parents fundamentally believe that they alone have the right to decide what treatment Charlie has and does not have,” Katie Gollop, QC, of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers, said in a written statement. “They do not believe that there is any role for a judge or a court. They feel they have been stripped of their rights as parents.”

Gollop said that Great Ormond Street, however, was bound by “different principles”. She said that children also had rights and that the hospital mission statement was: “The child first and always.” She said that doctors treated children as individuals and acted in a child’s best interests.

Charlie’s parents walked out of the hearing without warning shortly before lunch. His father had stood up and said: “I thought this was supposed to be independent.” Yates had been shaking during the hearing and put her head in her hands more than once. The judge adjourned the hearing shortly afterwards and both returned for the afternoon session.

The hearing continues.

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