Indi Gregory’s family to take case to Europe

24 October 2023

Lady Justice Eleanor King has refused to allow the family of Indi Gregory permission to appeal a High Court decision that it is in the seven-month-old baby’s ‘best interests’ to die.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Indi’s parents Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth from Derbyshire, now face no alternative but to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. A stay has been granted to the family until 4pm on Thursday 26 October to make the application.

The seven-month-old girl is battling a rare mitochondrial disease and Indi’s parents maintain 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 are locked in a legal battle with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust which argues that life-saving treatment for Indi should end.

Insufficient evidence

Represented at the Court of Appeal by barrister, Bruno Quintavalle, the parents were seeking to appeal a ruling made on 13 October by Mr Justice Robert Peel.

The grounds of appeal included arguments that Justice Peel had made the ruling that Indi’s life-support treatment should be removed without sufficient evidence.

It was argued that: ‘the depth of the inquiry carried out by the Court into Indi’s medical situation was inadequate to decide a matter of life and death’, and that Justice Peel made findings about Indi’s medical situation and prognosis without the benefit of hearing key expert evidence, for example, from the consultant paediatric intensivist in charge of Indi’s treatment since September 2023.

It was argued that ‘hearsay’ evidence was provided in the form of letters and reports but none of this evidence was tested in court.

Mr Quintavalle also argued that the High Court hearing was procedurally unfair as the Trust was allowed to provide expert opinion evidence, without having any formal permission to do so or being instructed as experts, and yet Justice Peel refused to allow Mr Gregory to instruct experts in either mitochondrial disorders, neuroradiology or cardiology to support his case.

The third ground of appeal stated that: ‘The Court must bear in mind that an underlying incurable medical condition is often identical with disability. A denial of life-sustaining treatment to a child because of her disability would be unlawful discrimination.’

Submissions cited Indi’s rights under Articles 10 and 12§2  of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which ‘protect the right to life of people with disabilities who are to be guaranteed the effective enjoyment of this right on an equal basis to everyone else.’

In conclusion, Mr Quintavalle submitted that ‘there are compelling reasons for the case to be heard since it concerns the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a young child whose right to review the decision to remove that life-sustaining treatment should be given effect where any doubt exists.’

However, Lady Justice King dismissed each ground of appeal ruling that no further expert evidence was necessary.

‘She has improved significantly in the past few weeks’

Responding to the ruling, Dean Gregory, said: “We are appalled by the continued dismissal of Indi’s right to life and believe she is being discriminated against because of her disabilities by the courts and the Trust.   

“It has been a devastating journey through the court system, which no parent should have to face. 

“Claire and I are the ones who spend all day with Indi and she has improved significantly in the past few weeks. The Trust is just not telling the truth to the Court.

“Indi is fighting to live, the system has given up on her, but we refuse to allow her to be brushed under the carpet and we will continue to fight for Indi for as long as it takes. She deserves that chance.”

Find out more about Indi Gregory
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