The parents of a 23-month-old boy who has been at the centre of a life-support treatment battle have lost the latest round of their legal fight after failing to persuade Supreme Court justices to consider their case for a second time.
Tom Evans and Kate James, who are both in their early twenties, had made another application to the Supreme Court after losing a second fight over Alfie Evans at the Court of Appeal. But justices on Friday dismissed their application. Judges have also approved a plan for withdrawing treatment and bringing Alfie's life to an end. Three appeal court judges endorsed a plan drawn up by doctors earlier this week.
But they said treatment should continue until Supreme Court justices had made a decision. Judges said no detail of the plan could be made public because Alfie was entitled to privacy as his life came to a close.
Alfie's parents had already lost one round of fights, in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights. In February, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool could stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents, after hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and Liverpool.
Specialists at Alder Hey said life-support treatment should stop and Mr Justice Hayden said he accepted medical evidence which showed that further treatment was futile. Alfie's parents want to move their son from Alder Hey to a hospital in Rome. The couple said Italian doctors were willing to treat the little boy and an air ambulance was available.
But Mr Justice Hayden said flying Alfie to a foreign hospital would be wrong and pointless. Court of Appeal judges upheld his decisions. Supreme Court justices and European Court of Human Rights' judges refused to intervene.
Alfie's parents had also argued that Alfie was being wrongly "detained" at Alder Hey and had made a habeas corpus application. A writ of habeas corpus - Latin for "you may have the body"' - is a legal manoeuvre which requires a court to examine the legality of a detention. It is a piece of common law which probably dates back to Anglo-Saxon times.
Mr Justice Hayden dismissed that habeas corpus claim last week. Appeal judges upheld Mr Justice Hayden's decision. Judges have heard that Alfie, born on May 9 2016, is in a "semi-vegetative state" and has a degenerative neurological condition doctors had not definitively diagnosed. Specialists say his brain has been "eroded".
Our correspondent Andy Bonner reports from Alder Hey hospital.