UK

Senior judge’s ‘profound concern’ over aspects of litigation centred on baby

Critically ill baby Indi Gregory (Family handout/PA)
Critically ill baby Indi Gregory (Family handout/PA) Critically ill baby Indi Gregory (Family handout/PA)

A Court of Appeal judge has expressed “profound concern” about aspects of litigation centred on a critically ill baby girl who was the focus of a life-support treatment fight.

Lord Justice Peter Jackson said on Friday that doctors caring for eight-month-old Indi Gregory, and other critically ill children, at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham had been put in an “extremely challenging” position.

He told a Court of Appeal hearing that the hospital’s governing trust had shown “proper sympathy and understanding” for Indi’s parents  and said “manipulative litigation tactics” would not be tolerated.

The judge also asked whether a trainee solicitor advising Indi’s father was “out of control”.

He aired concerns as Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, lost a Court of Appeal argument over where the little girl should be when doctors withdraw treatment.

Indi Gregory court case
Indi Gregory court case Eight-month-old Indi Gregory has been at the heart of a High Court life-support fight (Family handout/PA)

Indi’s parents, who are both in their 30s, want specialists to withdraw treatment at their home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

Specialists caring for Indi at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham say treatment should be withdrawn in a hospice or hospital.

A High Court judge has ruled against Indi’s parents and concluded that withdrawing treatment at home would be “too dangerous”.

Indi’s father on Friday challenged that ruling by Mr Justice Peel at an online Court of Appeal hearing.

But Lord Justice Jackson, and two other London-based appeal judges, dismissed the challenge.

Lord Justice Jackson said the appeal was “entirely without merit” and Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan said they agreed.

Indi Gregory court case
Indi Gregory court case Dean Gregory together with Claire Staniforth, Indi’s parents, wanted their daughter to receive end-of-life care at home (Victoria Jones/PA)

Judges have heard that Indi, who was born on February 24, has mitochondrial disease – a genetic condition that saps energy.

Specialists say she is dying and bosses at the hospital asked for a ruling that doctors could lawfully limit treatment.

Medics say the treatment Indi receives causes pain and is futile.

Her parents disagree.

They want specialists to keep providing life-support treatment.

Indi and her parents
Indi and her parents Claire Staniforth and Dean Gregory with their daughter Indi Gregory (Family handout/PA)

But Mr Justice Peel has already ruled that specialists can lawfully limit treatment.

He has concluded such a move would be in Indi’s best interests.

Indi’s parents have failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges and judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, to overturn that treatment decision.

Mr Justice Peel has overseen private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

But he has allowed journalists to attend and ruled that Indi can be named in reports.

Court of Appeal hearings have been staged in public.