Critically ill baby’s father ‘heartbroken’ as latest legal bid fails

Indi Gregory (Family handout) (PA Media)
Indi Gregory (Family handout) (PA Media)

The father of a critically ill baby says he is “heartbroken” after failing to persuade European judges to intervene in a long-running life-support treatment fight.

Indi Gregory’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, had lost legal fights in London and hoped that judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, would consider the case.

But campaign group the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the couple – who are both in their 30s and from Ilkeston, Derbyshire – said an application had been rejected.

A spokesman said doctors could now “legally withdraw treatment” – and a boss at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where eight-month-old Indi is being cared for, said the ECHR decision concluded a “very difficult process”.

Mr Gregory said he was “heartbroken” by the ECHR decision, but “no longer surprised”.

He said Indi’s family would do “everything we can to help until the end”.

A High Court judge recently ruled that doctors could lawfully limit the treatment they provide to Indi, and her parents failed to persuade appeal judges to overturn that decision.

Mr Justice Peel had considered evidence at a private trial in the Family Division of the High Court.

He heard that Indi, who was born on February 24, had mitochondrial disease, a genetic condition that saps energy.

Specialists say she is dying and bosses at the Nottingham hospital’s governing trust asked him to rule that doctors could lawfully limit treatment.

Medics say the treatment Indi receives causes pain and is futile.

Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights concludes what has been a very difficult process

Dr Keith Girling

Dr Keith Girling, medical director at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said on Thursday: “Cases like this are incredibly difficult for everyone and our thoughts are with Indi’s parents.

“Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights concludes what has been a very difficult process.

“Our priority now is to provide the best possible care to Indi and to support her parents during this difficult time.”

The Christian Legal Centre said Indi’s parents initially wanted a European judge to “prohibit” the withdrawal of “life-sustaining treatment” until the ECHR had considered the case.

But the spokesman said the ECHR had “rejected the application”.

Mr Gregory said: “As a father and parent, I was willing to do everything I could to save my daughter’s life from inhumane decisions and people trying to play God.

“I’m heartbroken by the decision but I am no longer surprised.

“I believe it comes down to costs and resources and in the eyes of the NHS and the courts in this country and Europe, Indi is not worth it.

“To us she is everything and we will do everything we can to help until the end as it is our duty as parents to protect her.”

The Christian Legal Centre released a letter from the EHCR saying “the court will not prohibit the withdrawal of life support”.

An ECHR official said, in the letter, that a judge had decided to declare Indi’s parents’ application “inadmissible”.