European court rejects plea from Charlie Gard’s parents

Family handout photo of Charlie Gard.
Family handout photo of Charlie Gard.

Judges in the European Court of Human Rights have rejected a plea from the parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard to intervene in the case.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who are in their 30s and come from Bedfont, west London, wanted 10-month-old Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, to undergo a therapy trial in America.

Charlie Gard with his parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard.
Picture: Handout

Charlie Gard with his parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard. Picture: Handout

But specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Charlie is being cared for, say the therapy proposed by a doctor in the US is experimental and will not help the child.

After losing legal battles in the UK courts the couple then took their fight to the Strasbourg judges.

On Tuesday the ECHR announced the application to the court by the parents was “inadmissible” and said their decision was “final”.

In a statement, the European Court announced that it had by a majority “endorsed in substance” the approach by the UK courts “and thus declared the application inadmissible”.

It added that “consequently”, the court “also considered that it was appropriate to lift the interim measure” which had required doctors to continue providing life support treatment to Charlie.

The statement said, in the proceedings before the European Court, Charlie’s parents had argued on their own behalf and that of their son that he was being “unlawfully deprived” of his liberty contrary to human rights legislation.

It said the parents had further alleged the UK court decisions “amounted to an unfair and disproportionate interference in their parental rights”.

But the European court said the domestic courts “had been meticulous, thorough and reviewed at three levels of jurisdiction with clear and extensive reasoning giving relevant and sufficient support for their conclusions”.

It said the UK courts had concluded, “on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm”.

The statement said, in the proceedings before the European Court, Charlie’s parents had argued on their own behalf and that of their son that he was being “unlawfully deprived” of his liberty contrary to human rights legislation.

It said the parents had further alleged the UK court decisions “amounted to an unfair and disproportionate interference in their parental rights”.

But the European court said the domestic courts “had been meticulous, thorough and reviewed at three levels of jurisdiction with clear and extensive reasoning giving relevant and sufficient support for their conclusions”.

It said the UK courts had concluded, “on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm”.

Charlie’s parents have raised nearly £1.4 million to pay for therapy in America.

The couple launched an appeal on a GoFundMe website four months ago, saying they needed £1.2 million. They reached their target shortly before a High Court trial began in April and more than 83,000 people have donated money.

Charlie’s mother has posted a message on the website thanking people for their continued support.