The parents of a 23-month-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment battle have applied to the supreme court to appeal against a ruling that treatment should be removed from the child.
Court of appeal judges ruled on Monday that Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, could not take their son Alfie Evans abroad to receive treatment for a rare degenerative brain disease. The couple, from Liverpool, have so far lost cases in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights.
The child’s parents insist they have seen improvements in their son’s condition and want to move him to a hospital in Rome where they believe he will receive better treatment. Judges have heard that Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” and that further treatment would be futile.
The supreme court confirmed on Tuesday that the couple had filed an application to appeal. “They wish to challenge the decision that Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust can withdraw artificial ventilation from their child,” it said.
“The application will be referred to the President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, and two other members of the Court who will form the decision panel. The hospital and Alfie’s legal guardian (the person who provides the independent voice of the child in court) will then be asked to provide their views. The Court is aware of the urgency of this matter.”
The basis of the couple’s latest appeal is that their son is being wrongly detained by Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. They have made a “habeas corpus” application, Latin for “you may have the body”. The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 allows anybody to have the legality of a detention examined.
On Monday, an appeal court panel of Lord Justice Davis, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan upheld a ruling by the high court judge Mr Justice Hayden, who endorsed a detailed plan put forward by Alder Hey doctors for withdrawing life-support treatment.
The judge said the unanimous view of medical experts was that Alfie’s brain had been eroded by disease and further assessment was pointless.
Reading a statement outside the hospital two hours after the appeal court decision, Tom Evans thanked the supporters surrounding him and again asked for his son’s life not be terminated.
“They can’t break us, we are never going to back down,” he said. “Alfie, the family and all of our supporters are stronger than ever and we will keep fighting all the way. We will never give up on you Alfie.”
An Alder Hey spokesman said: “The Supreme Court will now consider the application for permission to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal. Our priority is to continue providing Alfie with the best care possible.”