Critically ill baby’s parents wait for ruling on move to Italy

Indi Gregory’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, say a hospital in Rome has now offered to treat the little girl.

Brian Farmer
Tuesday 31 October 2023 17:28 GMT
Indi Gregory is at the centre of a treatment fight (Family handout)
Indi Gregory is at the centre of a treatment fight (Family handout)

The parents of a critically ill baby are waiting for a High Court judge’s decision after launching another round of a life-support treatment fight.

Mr Justice Peel recently ruled that doctors treating Indi Gregory at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham could lawfully limit treatment.

Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges in London, and judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, to overturn that decision.

But the couple, who are both in their 30s and from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, say an Italian hospital has now offered to treat Indi.

Lawyers representing them on Tuesday asked Mr Justice Peel to allow Indi to be moved to Italy.

Bosses at the Queen’s Medical Centre said Indi’s parents’ application should be dismissed.

Mr Justice Peel considered evidence at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London and said he aimed to deliver a ruling soon.

He allowed journalists to attend and said Indi could be identified in reports.

The judge was told that the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome had agreed to accept the little girl.

Lawyers representing Indi’s parents said there had been a “material” change of circumstances since he ruled that doctors could limit treatment, and Indi had a chance of a “longer life”.

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 hospital bosses 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 and want treatment to continue.

Barrister Louis Browne KC, who led Indi’s parents legal team, told Mr Justice Peel – in a written case outline on Tuesday – that the Nottingham hospital’s governing trust was refusing to cooperate with a transfer.

He said that refusal raised concerns.

“The concerns arise because the court has made no order obliging Indi to be treated by the trust or restricting her right to move…” he said.

“The court is respectfully asked to make the order sought so that Indi can move her medical care a new hospital, who, whilst putting her best interests first, is prepared to treat her… ”

Barrister Scott Matthewson, who represented the Queen’s Medical Centre’s governing trust, said Indi’s parents’ application should be dismissed.

“Indi’s family understandably want to do all that they possibly can to achieve what they believe to be in her best interests,” he said, in a written argument.

“However, there is no tangible plan before the court to enable it to make any sensible decision as to how transfer to Italy could be managed safely or why palliative treatment in a different location is in Indi’s best interests.

“More fundamentally, the best interests decision has already been made and there is no compelling new evidence sufficient to undermine the court’s previous careful analysis.”

Indi’s parents are being supported by campaign group the Christian Legal Centre.

The organisation’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, said after Tuesday’s hearing: “There is a hospital prepared to care for Indi in Rome. Indi’s parents desire to give her every chance they can. Why would anyone try to stop this happening for them and for her?”

Mr Gregory said: “Indi deserves the chance for a longer life. We cannot force the NHS and courts in this country to care for Indi but together we can give her a chance with a truly amazing treatment plan in Italy. We hope and pray Mr Justice Robert Peel will do the right thing.”

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