The legal firm representing the family of Alfie Evans has today released a disturbing statement today explaining its involvement in the case, and there are some shocking revelations.
Most notably, when the legal basis for future treatments was being determined, it was all done so while the Evans family were without legal representation.
The chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Williams, revealed that Tom Evans and Kate James were deprived of legal representation for the crucial February “fact-finding” hearing – leaving them at a distinct legal disadvantage as the case moved forward.
“We believe that a particularly important event for the future direction of this case occurred in February 2018 – again, before our involvement,” Williams wrote in her statement. “It was in February that the crucial “fact-finding” hearing took place, where the medical evidence and alternative treatments were considered by Mr. Justice Hayden.”
Then came the crucial detail: “Significantly, at this hearing, Mr. Evans and Ms. James had no legal representation.”
Williams, a qualified barrister, argued that the couple’s lack of legal representation resulted in “major repercussions for the future outworking of the case.” She noted that it was at this particular hearing when the court found that it was in Alfie’s “best interests” to “have treatment withdrawn and to be allowed to die.”
Once the facts were established and the court was happy, the Evans’ were, in many ways, fighting a losing battle. “Once this hearing had established this ‘fact’, future legal options were already limited since appeals can only be made on the basis of law, not on challenging ‘facts,'” Williams continued.
Williams also noted that the Christian Legal Centre was working with the family on a “pro bono” basis, and that its lawyers took the view that it would not be in Alfie’s best interest to allow him to die, as was the ruling of the court.
“Having reviewed the case with Mr. Evans, we believed that Alfie’s ‘best interests’ would be served not by allowing him to die but by respecting his parents’ wish to take advantage of the excellent medical care being offered to Alfie by three other European hospitals,” Williams explained. “Given the stage of the case at which our involvement was requested by Alfie’s parents, the legal options available were limited.”
Williams went on to explain some of the legal argument that was put forward in the arduous case. “We sought to issue a writ of habeas corpus on the point of the law that Alfie should not be detained in a hospital that no longer intended to treat him or offer life support – especially when another suitably-qualified hospital was prepared to provide ongoing care for him, and the child’s parents wished for this transfer to happen,” she said.
However, in the Supreme Court’s ruling, they effectively labeled the argument of habeas corpus as outdated.
“In the olden days, the way in which a father could enforce his right to the custody of his child was by was of a writ of habeas corpus,” the Supreme Court wrote in its decision. “That was because a married father had, at common law, the right to the custody of his child. But that right has been circumscribed in modern times in the interests of the welfare of the child.”
The Christian Legal Centre fundamentally disagreed with this assertion.
“Habeas corpus liberty cannot be set aside by a judge’s view that it is in Alfie’s interest to die now,” Roger Kiska of the Christian Legal Centre told Faithwire earlier this week.
“Kate and Tom, Alfie’s parents, do not accept that it is in his best interests to have his life ended by a judge’s ruling; they should be free to take him to a hospital that is ready and willing to treat him,” Kiska added. “Alfie should also be able to access the treatment being offered abroad.”
Williams stated that despite the enormous media interest in this case, the Christian Legal Centre has remained solely focused on the “best interests” of Alfie Evans and the expert legal representation of his parents. “We underline that our driving concern throughout our short involvement in this case has been to contend for little Alfie’s bests interests and to serve his parents,” Williams said.
“We continue to believe that Alfie is not best served by holding him, against his parents’ wishes, in a hospital where he will be allowed to die, when another hospital is willing to offer him ongoing medical care, with minimal risk.”
“At this difficult time, we ask everyone to respect the privacy of M.r Evans, M.s James and Alfie Evans,” Williams concluded. “We entrust Alfie to the kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting the gift of life and the freedom of parents.”
It is a devastating series of events that should have been prevented. Now, as Alfie continues to fight for his life, MEP Steven Woolfe is seeking to introduce a new law that will ensure parents are assigned fair and equal legal representation in comparison to the courts and hospitals.
“Alfie’s case is not isolated. It follows a pattern where the NHS and the Court, both arms of the state, proceed as a juggernaut to crush dissent and to refuse be open their minds let alone their hearts to new evidence,” MEP Stephen Woolfe posted on his Facebook page. “It is regularly happening across the UK.”
“All parents should be allowed an independent advocate to defend their case with the right legal and medical expertise and financial equality of arms,” added Woolfe. “Now is the time to act. We cannot have another baby, another family, have to go through the struggle and torment the Evans family have. It’s time for Alfie’s Law.”
Woolfe, who is a former barrister, delved deeper into his proposal for a law named after little Alfie. “Alfie’s Law” would require the parents defending their child’s life before the state to be granted “equality of arms, namely a fully-funded legal team with access to medical and legal expertise, as the NHS now enjoys without any scrutiny.”
“This independent advocate must not be appointed by Court or the NHS but must be provided at the earliest opportunity, when a hospital is first applying to court,” he added, urging that more potent legal representation be assigned to the parents in such cases. He argued that hospitals have immediate access to first class legal assistance, leaving the parents at a disadvantage. By the time adequate legal help is recruited on the parents side, it is often too late: “To ask many judges to simply roll back their opinion after a long fight seems to be too much to ask,” he said.
Woofle added that it is “shocking” to witness just how marginalized parents have become in the decision-making process over their own child’s welfare.
“It is chilling to see how far the states powers to control our children have come and the power they will use to retain it,” he added. “No one has a monopoly of truth nor the capacity for miracles. Doctors and judges must not confuse themselves with the one above and must not play God.”