European judges reject plea from Charlie Gard's parents to intervene

The parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard have lost the final stage of their legal fight to prevent his life support being turned off after the European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene in the case.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates wanted to take 10-month-old, who suffers a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, to the US for experimental treatment.

Judges at the European court today said they had agreed by a majority that they would not hear the case in their "final" decision.

They said they believed British courts had made the right decision when they found the baby should be allowed to "die with dignity".

The judges also lifted an interim court order that had required Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where Charlie is being cared for, to keep his life support going while the case was being considered.

Charlie Gard's family fought an extended legal battle to keep him alive. Credit: Gard family

Charlie's parents have made no public comment on the decision as yet, which marks the end of the road for their lengthy legal battle.

A spokesman for GOSH said their thoughts were with the couple and there would be "no rush" to turn off Charlie's life support.

Our thoughts are with Charlie’s parents on receipt of this news which we know will be very distressing for them. Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents as we prepare for the next steps. There will be no rush by Great Ormond Street Hospital to change Charlie’s care and any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion.

Great Ormond Street Hospital
The European Court said their decision was final. Credit: Gard family

Specialists looking after Charlie at GOSH have said life support should stop because the proposed US treatment had no realistic chance of success and the baby was probably in constant pain and suffering.

Charlie's parents, aged in the 30s and from west London, have countered that doctors have overstated the extent of their son's condition and he should be allowed a chance for treatment and life.

They had raised more than a million pounds to take him to the US for additional treatment.

A High Court judge found that it was Charlie's best interests to be allowed to die, and two appeal at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court later upheld that decision.

Charlie's parents have not yet commented on the ECHR decision. Credit: PA

A short explanation of the ECHR decision said that they had declined to hear the case because they "endorsed in substance the approach by the domestic courts".

It said the approach taken by the British court was "meticulous, thorough and reviewed" and their judgements had given "clear and extensive reasoning giving relevant and sufficient support for their conclusions".

"The domestic courts had concluded, on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm."

A full ruling on the decision will be published tomorrow.