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Parents of Alfie Evans lose court fight over life support

The parents of a 23-month-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment battle have lost their latest legal fight to allow the child to be moved to a foreign hospital for treatment.

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.

Alfie Evans


Alfie Evans. Photograph: PA

The couple, from Liverpool, have already lost cases in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights. Judges have heard that Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” and that further treatment would be futile.

The child’s parents want to move their son to a hospital in Rome where they believe he will receive better treatment. They say doctors at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool have refused to let them remove Alfie from the premises.

On Monday afternoon, appeal judges Lord Justice Davis, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan upheld a ruling by high court judge Mr Justice Hayden, who endorsed a detailed plan put forward by Alder Hey doctors for withdrawing life-support treatment.

Hayden said details of that plan could not be revealed because Alfie was entitled to privacy at the end of his life.

Barrister for the parents, Paul Diamond, said the couple might make a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Appeal court judges said doctors should continue treating Alfie pending a Supreme Court decision.

Last week, Alfie’s parents said their son had improved in recent weeks and they had asked Hayden to allow a new assessment, but he refused. The judge said the unanimous view of medical experts was that Alfie’s brain had been eroded by disease and further assessment was pointless. The child’s parents also suggested that Alfie was being unlawfully detained at Alder Hey, but the judge dismissed that suggestion.

The latest challenge came as Alder Hey children’s hospital employed extra security personnel because of demonstrations in support of the toddler’s parents. The hospital said noise from protesters outside the building on Sunday night had disturbed other young patients.

Some hospital visitors described the protest as “a circus” and said there was a bouncy castle, people drinking alcohol, and “children running everywhere” as 100 supporters gathered outside on Sunday night.

One patient’s relative, who did not want to be named, told BBC Radio Merseyside that visiting Alder Hey was “intimidating and scary” and that she heard chants of “burn it down” from protestors, which she said was “taking it too far”.

Alder Hey said in a statement: “We would ask that noise levels outside the hospital are kept to a minimum and for example car horns are not sounded.

“Loud and constant noise, such as from car horns, affects sleep and raises anxiety levels for our patients, especially when recovering from procedures, so please bear them in mind.”

Shortly after the statement, Evans posted a video on Facebook of Alfie’s hospital room, from which he said patients could only hear the noise outside if the window was opened. Car horns and cheering could be heard when Evans did so.

Alder Hey advised visitors that there would be more security inside the hospital “and a more controlled approach to access to certain areas”.

Liverpool protest held over withdrawal of Alfie Evans’ life support

The parents of a seriously ill boy at the centre of a life-support treatment battle are to mount another legal challenge.

Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, are preparing to ask court of appeal judges to allow 23-month-old Alfie Evans to continue to receive treatment.

The latest legal challenge, set for Monday, came after hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a hospital in Liverpool to protest against the decision to turn off the baby’s life support.

The demonstration, which closed roads around Alder Hey hospital on Thursday night, was to challenge a high court judge who ruled that further treatment would harm Alfie’s future dignity.

On Wednesday the high court judge, Mr Justice Hayden, endorsed an end-of-life care plan for Alfie drawn up by specialists. The judge described Alfie’s life as “profoundly unfair” but accepted medical evidence that showed further treatment was futile.

Alfie Evans.


Alfie Evans. Photograph: PA

Alfie’s parents, who are from Liverpool, have already lost fights in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights.

But on Friday appeal court officials confirmed to the Guardian that another hearing had been listed for Monday.

Appeal court officials told Press Association that an appeal court judge had decided that Alfie should continue to receive treatment pending Monday’s hearing.

Legal advisers representing the couple said they will ask judges to overturn at least one decision made by Hayden on Wednesday.

The protest outside Alder Hey began after Tom Evans said in an emotional Facebook video that he had an air ambulance on standby to fly his son for treatment in Rome but that police prevented him from taking Alfie out of the hospital.

Footage posted online showed Alfie’s parents receiving huge applause as they joined the significant crowd of protesters who were chanting Alfie’s name.

Liverpool protest held over withdrawal of Alfie Evans’ life support

A video posted on Facebook showed Alfie’s father filming his son in the hospital and holding a letter he said stated he had the right to leave with his child. The words “Christian Legal Centre” can be seen at the top of the letter.

“I have documentation that says I have the right to take my son out of the hospital. I have the right to take my son out of this hospital,” he says in the video. Evans said the documentation proved he was allowed to leave legally, and that he had removed the duty of care and given it to their air ambulance company.

“Alder Hey have phoned the police to stop me from taking my son out of the hospital. This is my son. Look at my healthy, healthy young boy who is undiagnosed, who is certainly not dying,” he said.

During the clip of about two and a half minutes he also encouraged people to come to the hospital to stand outside and “tell them to release our son” in a “quiet protest”.

He added: “They have phoned the police over a child … Look how innocent the boy is, look at him, he lies there eagerly waiting for his trip home. How can this come to this?”

Merseyside police said the protest was peaceful but “did cause significant traffic disruption and inconvenience for other people trying to access the hospital”.

Alder Hey said the protest causedsignificant disruption and paid tribute to its staff who “worked tirelessly under extremely difficult conditions to manage the implications of the disruption”.

Alfie is in a semi-vegetative state and has a degenerative neurological condition that has never been definitively diagnosed by doctors.

Liverpool protest held over withdrawal of Alfie Evans’ life support

The parents of a seriously ill boy at the centre of a life-support treatment battle are to mount another legal challenge.

Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, are preparing to ask court of appeal judges to allow 23-month-old Alfie Evans to continue to receive treatment.

The latest legal challenge, set for Monday, came after hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a hospital in Liverpool to protest against the decision to turn off the baby’s life support.

The demonstration, which closed roads around Alder Hey hospital on Thursday night, was to challenge a high court judge who ruled that further treatment would harm Alfie’s future dignity.

On Wednesday the high court judge, Mr Justice Hayden, endorsed an end-of-life care plan for Alfie drawn up by specialists. The judge described Alfie’s life as “profoundly unfair” but accepted medical evidence that showed further treatment was futile.

Alfie Evans.


Alfie Evans. Photograph: PA

Alfie’s parents, who are from Liverpool, have already lost fights in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights.

But on Friday appeal court officials confirmed to the Guardian that another hearing had been listed for Monday.

Appeal court officials told Press Association that an appeal court judge had decided that Alfie should continue to receive treatment pending Monday’s hearing.

Legal advisers representing the couple said they will ask judges to overturn at least one decision made by Hayden on Wednesday.

The protest outside Alder Hey began after Tom Evans said in an emotional Facebook video that he had an air ambulance on standby to fly his son for treatment in Rome but that police prevented him from taking Alfie out of the hospital.

Footage posted online showed Alfie’s parents receiving huge applause as they joined the significant crowd of protesters who were chanting Alfie’s name.

Liverpool protest held over withdrawal of Alfie Evans’ life support

A video posted on Facebook showed Alfie’s father filming his son in the hospital and holding a letter he said stated he had the right to leave with his child. The words “Christian Legal Centre” can be seen at the top of the letter.

“I have documentation that says I have the right to take my son out of the hospital. I have the right to take my son out of this hospital,” he says in the video. Evans said the documentation proved he was allowed to leave legally, and that he had removed the duty of care and given it to their air ambulance company.

“Alder Hey have phoned the police to stop me from taking my son out of the hospital. This is my son. Look at my healthy, healthy young boy who is undiagnosed, who is certainly not dying,” he said.

During the clip of about two and a half minutes he also encouraged people to come to the hospital to stand outside and “tell them to release our son” in a “quiet protest”.

He added: “They have phoned the police over a child … Look how innocent the boy is, look at him, he lies there eagerly waiting for his trip home. How can this come to this?”

Merseyside police said the protest was peaceful but “did cause significant traffic disruption and inconvenience for other people trying to access the hospital”.

Alder Hey said the protest causedsignificant disruption and paid tribute to its staff who “worked tirelessly under extremely difficult conditions to manage the implications of the disruption”.

Alfie is in a semi-vegetative state and has a degenerative neurological condition that has never been definitively diagnosed by doctors.

Liverpool protest held over withdrawal of Alfie Evan’s life support

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a hospital in Liverpool to protest against the decision to turn off the life support of a seriously ill baby.

The demonstration, which closed roads around Alder Hey hospital on Thursday night, was to challenge a high court judge who ruled that further treatment would harm the future dignity of 23-month-old Alfie Evans.

The baby’s father, Tom Evans, said he had air ambulance on standby to fly his son for treatment in Rome but that police prevented him from taking Alfie out of the hospital.

The demonstration came a day after a judge endorsed an end-of-life care plan for Alfie drawn up by specialists.

Mr Justice Hayden described what had happened to Alfie as profoundly unfair but accepted medical evidence that showed further treatment was futile.

Footage posted online showed Alfie’s parents receiving huge applause as they joined the significant crowd of protesters who were chanting Alfie’s name.

A video posted on Facebook showed Alfie’s father filming his son in the hospital and holding a letter he said states he has the right to leave with his child. The words “Christian Legal Centre” can be seen at the top of the letter.

“I have documentation that says I have the right to take my son out of the hospital. I have the right to take my son out of this hospital,” he says in the video. Evans said the documentation proves he is allowed to leave legally, and that he has removed the duty of care and given it to their air ambulance company.

“Alder Hey have phoned the police to stop me from taking my son out of the hospital. This is my son. Look at my healthy, healthy young boy who is undiagnosed, who is certainly not dying,” he said.

During the clip of about two and a half minutes he also encouraged people to come to the hospital to stand outside and “tell them to release our son” in a “quiet protest”.

He added: “They have phoned the police over a child … Look how innocent the boy is, look at him, he lies there eagerly waiting for his trip home. How can this come to this?”

Merseyside police said the protest was peaceful but “did cause significant traffic disruption and inconvenience for other people trying to access the hospital”.

Alfie’s parents, who are both in their 20s and from Liverpool, have lost treatment fights in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights.

Alfie is in a semi-vegetative state and has a degenerative neurological condition that has never been definitively diagnosed by doctors.

Questions over Prevent referrals by mental health trusts | Letters

In your report (Patients reported as terror risk for watching Arabic TV, 19 March), a forensic psychiatrist says, “I’m ashamed, it’s totally unscientific”. There are more pressing reasons than science for psychiatry to be ashamed of its engagement in this programme. Patient confidentiality has been a fundamental principle of medical care since Hippocrates. Nowhere is it more important than in psychiatry, where troubled people need to know that their concerns will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The reporting of people to authorities for what they think rather than what they do is surely contrary to all we value in our legal and civic tradition, while the naive hypocrisy of labelling a surveillance role as a safeguarding one fools nobody. It compromises psychiatry’s need to try to be as honest and transparent with patients as possible. We have long had to balance our primary duty to patients with our undoubted obligations to the society in which we operate. This has always been a highly complex and sensitive area with no easy answers. If not addressed openly and honestly, it risks a serious breakdown of trust. There are well-established principles for breaking medical confidentiality if there is clear evidence of dangerous criminal activity or direct risk to a third party. Prevent falls well outside these principles. Given some of the darker episodes in our history when we have colluded with repressive regimes, it is remarkable that psychiatry’s challenge to Prevent has not been more vociferous.
Tom Burns
Professor emeritus of social psychiatry, University of Oxford

The Guardian contributes to anti-Prevent mythology by reporting a pilot research study, Counter-terrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding in the NHS (by Drs Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz), which rests on shockingly shaky foundations. Among other things, the study suggests that the mentally ill are being unfairly stigmatised as terrorism risks by NHS mental health trusts which are themselves being turned by the counter-terrorist Prevent strategy into instruments of surveillance rather than safeguarding. Yet these sweeping allegations are based on interviews with only 17 NHS “experts”, two police officers, and safeguarding teams in six NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups out of over 300, plus completed online questionnaires from an unrepresentative sample of 329 out of a total of 1.5 million NHS employees. This is not sound social science.
Steven Greer
Professor of human rights, University of Bristol Law School

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Questions over Prevent referrals by mental health trusts | Letters

In your report (Patients reported as terror risk for watching Arabic TV, 19 March), a forensic psychiatrist says, “I’m ashamed, it’s totally unscientific”. There are more pressing reasons than science for psychiatry to be ashamed of its engagement in this programme. Patient confidentiality has been a fundamental principle of medical care since Hippocrates. Nowhere is it more important than in psychiatry, where troubled people need to know that their concerns will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The reporting of people to authorities for what they think rather than what they do is surely contrary to all we value in our legal and civic tradition, while the naive hypocrisy of labelling a surveillance role as a safeguarding one fools nobody. It compromises psychiatry’s need to try to be as honest and transparent with patients as possible. We have long had to balance our primary duty to patients with our undoubted obligations to the society in which we operate. This has always been a highly complex and sensitive area with no easy answers. If not addressed openly and honestly, it risks a serious breakdown of trust. There are well-established principles for breaking medical confidentiality if there is clear evidence of dangerous criminal activity or direct risk to a third party. Prevent falls well outside these principles. Given some of the darker episodes in our history when we have colluded with repressive regimes, it is remarkable that psychiatry’s challenge to Prevent has not been more vociferous.
Tom Burns
Professor emeritus of social psychiatry, University of Oxford

The Guardian contributes to anti-Prevent mythology by reporting a pilot research study, Counter-terrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding in the NHS (by Drs Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz), which rests on shockingly shaky foundations. Among other things, the study suggests that the mentally ill are being unfairly stigmatised as terrorism risks by NHS mental health trusts which are themselves being turned by the counter-terrorist Prevent strategy into instruments of surveillance rather than safeguarding. Yet these sweeping allegations are based on interviews with only 17 NHS “experts”, two police officers, and safeguarding teams in six NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups out of over 300, plus completed online questionnaires from an unrepresentative sample of 329 out of a total of 1.5 million NHS employees. This is not sound social science.
Steven Greer
Professor of human rights, University of Bristol Law School

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Questions over Prevent referrals by mental health trusts | Letters

In your report (Patients reported as terror risk for watching Arabic TV, 19 March), a forensic psychiatrist says, “I’m ashamed, it’s totally unscientific”. There are more pressing reasons than science for psychiatry to be ashamed of its engagement in this programme. Patient confidentiality has been a fundamental principle of medical care since Hippocrates. Nowhere is it more important than in psychiatry, where troubled people need to know that their concerns will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The reporting of people to authorities for what they think rather than what they do is surely contrary to all we value in our legal and civic tradition, while the naive hypocrisy of labelling a surveillance role as a safeguarding one fools nobody. It compromises psychiatry’s need to try to be as honest and transparent with patients as possible. We have long had to balance our primary duty to patients with our undoubted obligations to the society in which we operate. This has always been a highly complex and sensitive area with no easy answers. If not addressed openly and honestly, it risks a serious breakdown of trust. There are well-established principles for breaking medical confidentiality if there is clear evidence of dangerous criminal activity or direct risk to a third party. Prevent falls well outside these principles. Given some of the darker episodes in our history when we have colluded with repressive regimes, it is remarkable that psychiatry’s challenge to Prevent has not been more vociferous.
Tom Burns
Professor emeritus of social psychiatry, University of Oxford

The Guardian contributes to anti-Prevent mythology by reporting a pilot research study, Counter-terrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding in the NHS (by Drs Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz), which rests on shockingly shaky foundations. Among other things, the study suggests that the mentally ill are being unfairly stigmatised as terrorism risks by NHS mental health trusts which are themselves being turned by the counter-terrorist Prevent strategy into instruments of surveillance rather than safeguarding. Yet these sweeping allegations are based on interviews with only 17 NHS “experts”, two police officers, and safeguarding teams in six NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups out of over 300, plus completed online questionnaires from an unrepresentative sample of 329 out of a total of 1.5 million NHS employees. This is not sound social science.
Steven Greer
Professor of human rights, University of Bristol Law School

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Questions over Prevent referrals by mental health trusts | Letters

In your report (Patients reported as terror risk for watching Arabic TV, 19 March), a forensic psychiatrist says, “I’m ashamed, it’s totally unscientific”. There are more pressing reasons than science for psychiatry to be ashamed of its engagement in this programme. Patient confidentiality has been a fundamental principle of medical care since Hippocrates. Nowhere is it more important than in psychiatry, where troubled people need to know that their concerns will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The reporting of people to authorities for what they think rather than what they do is surely contrary to all we value in our legal and civic tradition, while the naive hypocrisy of labelling a surveillance role as a safeguarding one fools nobody. It compromises psychiatry’s need to try to be as honest and transparent with patients as possible. We have long had to balance our primary duty to patients with our undoubted obligations to the society in which we operate. This has always been a highly complex and sensitive area with no easy answers. If not addressed openly and honestly, it risks a serious breakdown of trust. There are well-established principles for breaking medical confidentiality if there is clear evidence of dangerous criminal activity or direct risk to a third party. Prevent falls well outside these principles. Given some of the darker episodes in our history when we have colluded with repressive regimes, it is remarkable that psychiatry’s challenge to Prevent has not been more vociferous.
Tom Burns
Professor emeritus of social psychiatry, University of Oxford

The Guardian contributes to anti-Prevent mythology by reporting a pilot research study, Counter-terrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding in the NHS (by Drs Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz), which rests on shockingly shaky foundations. Among other things, the study suggests that the mentally ill are being unfairly stigmatised as terrorism risks by NHS mental health trusts which are themselves being turned by the counter-terrorist Prevent strategy into instruments of surveillance rather than safeguarding. Yet these sweeping allegations are based on interviews with only 17 NHS “experts”, two police officers, and safeguarding teams in six NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups out of over 300, plus completed online questionnaires from an unrepresentative sample of 329 out of a total of 1.5 million NHS employees. This is not sound social science.
Steven Greer
Professor of human rights, University of Bristol Law School

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Questions over Prevent referrals by mental health trusts | Letters

In your report (Patients reported as terror risk for watching Arabic TV, 19 March), a forensic psychiatrist says, “I’m ashamed, it’s totally unscientific”. There are more pressing reasons than science for psychiatry to be ashamed of its engagement in this programme. Patient confidentiality has been a fundamental principle of medical care since Hippocrates. Nowhere is it more important than in psychiatry, where troubled people need to know that their concerns will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The reporting of people to authorities for what they think rather than what they do is surely contrary to all we value in our legal and civic tradition, while the naive hypocrisy of labelling a surveillance role as a safeguarding one fools nobody. It compromises psychiatry’s need to try to be as honest and transparent with patients as possible. We have long had to balance our primary duty to patients with our undoubted obligations to the society in which we operate. This has always been a highly complex and sensitive area with no easy answers. If not addressed openly and honestly, it risks a serious breakdown of trust. There are well-established principles for breaking medical confidentiality if there is clear evidence of dangerous criminal activity or direct risk to a third party. Prevent falls well outside these principles. Given some of the darker episodes in our history when we have colluded with repressive regimes, it is remarkable that psychiatry’s challenge to Prevent has not been more vociferous.
Tom Burns
Professor emeritus of social psychiatry, University of Oxford

The Guardian contributes to anti-Prevent mythology by reporting a pilot research study, Counter-terrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding in the NHS (by Drs Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz), which rests on shockingly shaky foundations. Among other things, the study suggests that the mentally ill are being unfairly stigmatised as terrorism risks by NHS mental health trusts which are themselves being turned by the counter-terrorist Prevent strategy into instruments of surveillance rather than safeguarding. Yet these sweeping allegations are based on interviews with only 17 NHS “experts”, two police officers, and safeguarding teams in six NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups out of over 300, plus completed online questionnaires from an unrepresentative sample of 329 out of a total of 1.5 million NHS employees. This is not sound social science.
Steven Greer
Professor of human rights, University of Bristol Law School

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Questions over Prevent referrals by mental health trusts | Letters

In your report (Patients reported as terror risk for watching Arabic TV, 19 March), a forensic psychiatrist says, “I’m ashamed, it’s totally unscientific”. There are more pressing reasons than science for psychiatry to be ashamed of its engagement in this programme. Patient confidentiality has been a fundamental principle of medical care since Hippocrates. Nowhere is it more important than in psychiatry, where troubled people need to know that their concerns will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The reporting of people to authorities for what they think rather than what they do is surely contrary to all we value in our legal and civic tradition, while the naive hypocrisy of labelling a surveillance role as a safeguarding one fools nobody. It compromises psychiatry’s need to try to be as honest and transparent with patients as possible. We have long had to balance our primary duty to patients with our undoubted obligations to the society in which we operate. This has always been a highly complex and sensitive area with no easy answers. If not addressed openly and honestly, it risks a serious breakdown of trust. There are well-established principles for breaking medical confidentiality if there is clear evidence of dangerous criminal activity or direct risk to a third party. Prevent falls well outside these principles. Given some of the darker episodes in our history when we have colluded with repressive regimes, it is remarkable that psychiatry’s challenge to Prevent has not been more vociferous.
Tom Burns
Professor emeritus of social psychiatry, University of Oxford

The Guardian contributes to anti-Prevent mythology by reporting a pilot research study, Counter-terrorism in the NHS: Evaluating Prevent Duty Safeguarding in the NHS (by Drs Heath-Kelly and Erzsébet Strausz), which rests on shockingly shaky foundations. Among other things, the study suggests that the mentally ill are being unfairly stigmatised as terrorism risks by NHS mental health trusts which are themselves being turned by the counter-terrorist Prevent strategy into instruments of surveillance rather than safeguarding. Yet these sweeping allegations are based on interviews with only 17 NHS “experts”, two police officers, and safeguarding teams in six NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups out of over 300, plus completed online questionnaires from an unrepresentative sample of 329 out of a total of 1.5 million NHS employees. This is not sound social science.
Steven Greer
Professor of human rights, University of Bristol Law School

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters