Charlie Gard: High Court judge slams protesters for 'upsetting other visitors' to Great Ormond Street

Judge also says Charlie's parents cannot take him abroad without a court order, despite efforts by US Congress to grant sick baby permanent residency

Katie Forster
Health Correspondent
Friday 21 July 2017 12:29
Charlie Gard's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice this morning
Charlie Gard's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice this morning

A High Court judge has asked people protesting about the Charlie Gard case not to upset other visitors to Great Ormond Street hospital, where the critically ill baby is on life support.

Mr Justice Francis is set to decide next week whether the 11-month-old should be allowed to travel to the US for experimental treatment.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates want their son, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, to receive nucleoside bypass therapy in a trial offered by a specialist in New York.

Doctors caring for Charlie argue it is kinder for the baby's life support to be switched off. At a preliminary hearing, the judge said he would need to know whether there was "new material" that could affect his decision.

He also issued a warning to some of the growing number of vocal campaigners the case has attracted, reminding them that there are "lots and lots" of other sick youngsters at the hospital whose relatives may not want to be confronted by campaigners or asked to sign petitions.

"Judge asks protesters not upset other visitors to Great Ormond Street Hospital," wrote legal expert Joshua Rozenberg QC, who has been closely reporting the case from the court room, in a Twitter post.

At a previous hearing, Mr Justice Francis said staff at the children's hospital had been subjected to "vile" abuse and threats, promising to punish those involved and adding: "I don't know how anybody can think they are helping the parents' case".

The judge also said Mr Gard and Ms Yates cannot take Charlie abroad without a court order, despite efforts by US Congress to grant him permanent residency in the country so he can fly there for treatment, according to Mr Rozenberg.

Eleven-month-old Charlie Gard has a form of mitochondrial disease and is ventilator-dependent

Charlie, who was born on 4 August 2016, has a faulty RRM2B gene, which affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving him unable to move or breath without a ventilator.

Mr Justice Francis is scheduled to analyse the latest evidence on Monday and Tuesday following a meeting between Ms Yates and two international experts to discuss the baby's condition.

Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York, who says the experimental treatment has a 10 per cent chance of "clinically meaningful success", flew to the UK at short notice to examine Charlie.

Lawyers representing Great Ormond Street have said they had "yet to see" any new evidence.

Charlie's parents, who are in their 30s and come from Bedfont, west London, have already lost battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London.

They have also failed to persuade European Court of Human Rights judges to intervene.

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