Judge appears to rule out possibility of flying Alfie Evans to Rome for treatment

Alfie's parents Tom Evans and Kate James (Philip Toscano/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A judge has appeared to rule out allowing Alfie Evans to be taken by his parents to Italy for treatment.

The 23-month-old baby has been at the centre of a life-or-death treatment battle, with his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, trying to stop his doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool from withdrawing life support in a sometimes acrimonious six-month dispute which has seen a series of court battles.

A "last-ditch appeal" by the Italian ambassador and the Pope, to grant Alfie citizenship of Italy to take him for treatment at a hospital in Rome, failed on Monday.

But the judge, Mr Justice Hayden, asked doctors if "other options" are possible to allow his family to take him home after life support was withdrawn.

Speaking to lawyers representing Alfie's parents and Alder Hey Hospital, he said: "If there were a more constructive attitude from the family might other options become possible, away from Alder Hey?

"I'm not suggesting this, I don't want it to be taken as an indication from me.

"One of the things Tom Evans said, if it can't be Italy or Munich, which it cannot be, was whether they could take Alfie home."

Earlier on Tuesday Alfie's father claimed his son has continued to breathe unassisted after his life support was removed, leaving doctors "gobsmacked".

Parents Tom Evans and Kate James wanted the judge at the hearing today to be asked to allow medical experts in Italy to examine Alfie.

A spokeswoman for the Christian Legal Centre, which is assisting the parents, said medics at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool had stopped providing “ventilation support” to Alfie shortly after 9pm on Monday.

But she said Alfie continued to breathe independently.

"Alfie has survived much longer than the doctors predicted, lending support to the request from Alfie’s parents for Alfie to be seen by medical experts in Italy," she said.

"An air ambulance is now waiting outside Alder Hey Hospital ready to take Alfie to hospital in Italy."

Mr Justice Hayden earlier dismissed a "last-ditch appeal" giving doctors the go-ahead to stop treatment.

Mr Evans spoke to journalists about his son's condition Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Mr Evans told journalists that after life-support was withdrawn, Alfie continued breathing and doctors agreed to give him oxygen and water.

"They say Alfie's suffering. Well, look at him now. He’s not even on a ventilator and he’s not suffering," he said.

Alder Hey doctors and independent medical experts say there is no cure and no hope for Alfie.

Medics say he has a degenerative neurological condition destroying his brain, and it is in his best interests to withdraw life support, but his parents want to take him abroad for treatment.

All legal avenues appeared to have been exhausted for the family until a further hearing by Mr Justice Hayden was announced earlier on Tuesday at the Family Division of the High Court in Manchester.

The hearing continues.