Baby’s parents set for new hearing after Italian government intervenes

Indi Gregory has been granted Italian citizenship – a move that mirrors developments in a case involving 23-month-old Alfie Evans five years ago

Brian Farmer
Monday 06 November 2023 22:11 GMT
The Italian Government has granted Indi Gregory Italian citizenship in a bid to help her be transferred to Rome for treatment as her parents continue their fight in the High Court (Family Handout/GoFundMe)
The Italian Government has granted Indi Gregory Italian citizenship in a bid to help her be transferred to Rome for treatment as her parents continue their fight in the High Court (Family Handout/GoFundMe)

The parents of a critically ill baby who has been at the centre of a life-support treatment fight are preparing for another court hearing after an intervention by the Italian government.

A judge is scheduled to consider further issues relating to the care of eight-month-old Indi Gregory, at a private online hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, on Tuesday.

The hearing was listed before Mr Justice Peel, after the Italian government granted Italian citizenship to Indi, with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni vowing to do what she could to “defend her life”.

Developments in Indi’s case have similarities to the progress of a 2018 life support treatment dispute centred on a 23-month-old boy – Alfie Evans.

Mr Justice Peel has already ruled that specialists treating Indi at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham can lawfully limit treatment

He concluded such a move would be in Indi’s best interests.

Indi’s parents Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, who are both in their 30s and from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, want treatment to continue.

But they have failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges and judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, to overturn that decision.

The couple have also failed in a bid to transfer Indi to a hospital in Rome.

Mr Justice Peel ruled that a move to Italy would not be in Indi’s best interests – and Court of Appeal judges backed that decision.

Italy’s cabinet briefly met on Monday for the sole purpose of granting the child citizenship, citing “pre-eminent humanitarian values”.

Ms Meloni said in a post on Facebook: “They say there isn’t much hope for little Indi, but until the very end, I’ll do what I can to defend her life.

“And to defend the right of her mamma and papa to do all that they can for her.”

Five years ago, Alfie Evans was granted Italian citizenship after a different High Court judge in London had ruled that treatment withdrawal was in the little boy’s best interests

Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, who lived in Liverpool, said an Italian government representative wanted to intervene and asked Mr Justice Hayden to give them more time.

They said there was an “international relations element” to the case.

But lawyers representing hospital bosses responsible for Alfie’s care said any granting of Italian citizenship made no difference.

They said there could be “no possible suggestion” that English courts did not have jurisdiction.

A barrister who represented Alfie, and took instructions from a court-appointed guardian, agreed.

Mr Justice Hayden dismissed Alfie’s parents’ “last-ditch appeal” and told a hearing: “Alfie is a British citizen, he is undoubtedly habitually resident in the UK. He falls therefore under the jurisdiction of the High Court.”

Alfie died a few days later after life-support treatment was withdrawn.

Judges have heard that Indi, who was born on February 24, has mitochondrial disease – a genetic condition that saps energy.

Specialists say Indi is dying and bosses at the hospital where she is being cared for asked for a ruling that doctors could lawfully limit treatment.

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

Her parents disagree.

The couple is being supported by campaign group Christian Concern and its sister organisation, the Christian Legal Centre.

A Christian Concern spokesman said on Monday that Mr Justice Peel would on Tuesday consider issues relating to where doctors would withdraw life-support treatment.

He said her parents wanted to take her home.

Mr Justice Peel has considered evidence at private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

But he has allowed journalists to attend and said Indi could be identified in reports.

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