Charlie Gard: European court rejects parents’ plea to intervene in battle to save terminally ill baby

Judges from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have rejected a plea from the parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard to intervene in their battle to save their son.

Parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates are fighting for their 10-month-old baby Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, to undergo a therapy trial in the United States.

They have already lost appeals in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London, for doctors to keep providing life support.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, where Charlie is being cared for, have argued the US therapy will not help.


Charlie Gard’s parents want to take him to the US for pioneering treatment (PA)

After losing legal battles in the UK courts the west-London couple 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.

Charlie, who was born on August 4 last year, has a form of mitochondrial disease, a condition which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.

Specialists in the US have offered an experimental therapy called nucleoside.

The ECHR statement said 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”.

This story is being updated.

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