Government ministers have ruled out intervention in a recent, controversial court ruling on the treatment of a baby with a serious genetic illness.
Earlier this month doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London were granted permission to move eight month-old Charlie Gard off life support and on to a ‘palliative care’ regime in which he would receive pain relief but no active treatment. The baby, whose name has been publicly released, suffers from an incurable genetic illness, ‘mitochondrial depletion syndrome’, which causes chronic muscle weakness. The Great Ormond Street doctors claimed Charley had no chance of survival and was likely to be suffering.
His parents objected, arguing that they should be allowed to explore any hope offered by a pioneering method of treatment in the United States, despite little optimism from doctors there. A crowdfunding campaign set up by Charlie’s parents to pay for the treatment has attracted donations of more than £1.3 million.
High Court Judge Mr Justice Francis accepted the doctor’s arguments, saying he was convinced that it would be in the baby’s best interests to now be allowed to die with dignity.
Unsurprisingly, the ruling was received badly by the parents and their supporters and several online petitions were launched calling on the government to intervene and allow his parents to take Charley elsewhere for treatment. The couple – Chris Gard and Connie Yates – have already announced plans to appeal.
Their MP, Shadow Housing Minister Ruth Cadbury, urged Justice Secretary Liz Truss to “do the right thing” if “she has any powers to intervene”.
But speaking on behalf of the Justice Secretary, Tory MP Phillip Lee insisted that while the case was “particularly emotive… clinicians at Great Ormond Street have made a judgment in this case and I think that should be respected.”
Lee is Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice.