The family of Alfie Evans has announced that they will “pursue justice” for their little boy following a protracted legal battle that resulted in the 23-month-old being taken off life support and subsequently dying at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
On behalf of Alfie’s parents and following Alfie’s funeral over the weekend, Sarah Evans posted to the official “Alfie’s Army” page, thanking all the supporters and hinting at a further legal fight.
“Alfie James Evans should be here right now but he isn’t. He hasn’t left us in spirit he never will, as a family we talk about him and my picture of him comes with me and my children every day,” Sarah wrote on Facebook. “I can’t explain to you all the pain and loss we feel. This most beautiful little boy of the purest soul ever. He brought people all over the world together and they say time is a healer. Right now it’s not. It hurts more and more as the days go by. Asking ourselves why???”
“Alfie’s army we love appreciate and respect you all and this is the only page we want remembering and supporting us This is Our Alfie James Evans army. We will in time pursue Alfie’s Law and justice for our beautiful boy,” she added.
Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, exhausted every legal option available to keep their child alive and transfer him to Italy for treatment at a Vatican-affiliated children’s hospital. Despite taking their case before the High Court, the Court of Appeals, the European Court of Human Rights and even the UK’s Supreme Court, they were unable to save their son. The medical teams at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital denied the parents their wishes to move Alfie and decided that it was in his “best interest” to be taken off life support. Alfie suffered from an undiagnosed degenerative brain condition.
Just a day before Alfie died, MEP Steven Woolfe, who became a key advocate for the Evans family, urged an immediate change in the law:
“We cannot go on treating parents as bystanders, little more than unrelated and largely unwanted visitors when it comes to the decisions made by doctors and the courts,” he wrote at the Independent. “The world has watched this tragedy unfold and they are horrified. Our legal system has looked down its nose at Alfie’s parents and failed to give their concerns the weight they deserve.”
Woolfe further explained his “Alfie’s Law” proposal:
“‘Alfie’s Law’ would introduce a number of important safeguards that would redress the balance. First, it would introduce independence into a one-sided system. What parents need right now is someone on their side to help and support them through the court process. By selecting an impartial advocate from a panel to act on their behalf, the parents would have someone on their side from the very beginning.
Secondly, under Alfie’s Law, parents and carers would be given the right to commensurate legal funding when appealing the decision of a hospital over the care of their child. For the parents, appeals are not only enormously stressful, they are incredibly costly too. In Alfie’s case, while the NHS has been able to command large legal budgets to fight the parents’ request for alternative treatment, Alfie’s parents have been left to fend for themselves, often representing themselves in court or relying on pro-bono support.”
Finally, Woolfe added, Alfie’s Law would “give the right for a second opinion from a parent-chosen healthcare professional who is independent of the NHS, and would force the courts to give this medical opinion equal weight.”
The day before Alfie died, the legal firm representing his family released a disturbing statement regarding the distinct legal disadvantages the Evans’ family faced in their son’s final days.
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.”
After that critical hearing, 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.
“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,” Woolfe wrote in a Facebook post prior to Alfie’s death. “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.”