ECHR refuses to hear case of Indi Gregory

26 October 2023

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has this afternoon refused to consider the case of eight-month-old Indi Gregory after a last-ditch application.

After exhausting domestic remedies, Indi’s family had this morning filed an application with the ECHR asking for ‘Interim Measures under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court” before 4pm today (26 October) to prohibit withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment until the ECHR has considered the case.

The move followed a decision this week by Court of Appeal judge, Lady Justice Eleanor King, which refused to allow the family permission to appeal a High Court decision that it is in the eight-month-old baby’s ‘best interests’ to die.

The eight-month-old girl is battling a rare mitochondrial disease and Indi’s parents have maintained that despite her disability, she is a happy baby who responds to their touch.

Being treated at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, the parents have been locked in a legal battle with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust who argue that life-saving treatment for Indi should end.

Following the decision by the Court of Appeal, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Indi’s parents Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth from Derbyshire, had faced no alternative but to take the case to Strasbourg on the grounds that the High Court trial was procedurally unfair.

Lawyers argued that the Trust had been allowed to provide expert opinion evidence, without having any formal permission to do so or being instructed as experts, and yet Justice Robert Peel refused to allow Mr Gregory to instruct experts in either mitochondrial disorders, neuroradiology or cardiology to support his case.

ECHR response

The response from the ECHR this afternoon, however, read:

“I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence of 26 October 2023 requesting the European Court of Human Rights under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court to grant Interim Measures prohibiting withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment from the applicant’s child pending the determination of your application.

“On 26 October 2023 the Court (the President of the Chamber, to which the case has been allocated) decided not to indicate to the Government of the United Kingdom, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, the interim measure you are seeking. Therefore, the Court will not prohibit the withdrawal of life support.

“As regards the remainder of the application, the Court, sitting in a single-judge formation (G. Kucsko Stadlmayer assisted by a rapporteur as provided for in Article 24 § 2 of the Convention), decided to declare it inadmissible.

“Having regard to all the material in its possession and in so far as it had jurisdiction to examine the allegations made, the Court considered that the conditions of admissibility provided for in Articles 34 and 35 of the Convention were not fulfilled.

“This decision, of which you are hereby given notice in accordance with Rule 52A of the Rules of Court, is final. It cannot be appealed against to the Grand Chamber or any other body. The Registry is unable to provide you with any further information about the decision.”

A stay had been granted to the family until 4pm today to make the application and for it to be considered. Now that stay has expired, the Trust can legally withdraw treatment.


Responding to the news, Mr Gregory said: “As a father and parent, I was willing to do everything I could to save my daughter’s life from inhumane decisions and people trying to play god. 

“I’m heartbroken by the decision but I am no longer surprised. I believe it comes down to costs and resources and in the eyes of the NHS and the courts in this country and Europe, Indi is not worth it. To us she is everything and we will do everything we can to help until the end as it is our duty as parents to protect her.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Indi’s family have given their all to contend for her life as has the Christian Legal Centre. It is disturbing and sad that they have had to go through such trauma. We stand with them.”

Find out more about Indi Gregory
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