Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, has issued the following statement in response to errors of fact in the reporting of the case of Alfie Evans
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, has issued the following statement in response to errors of fact in the reporting of the case of Alfie Evans:
“For the best part of a year, Tom Evans and his partner Kate James have been striving to preserve little Alfie’s life.
During this time, a large number of different advisers have been involved.
The Christian Legal Centre, however, has only been assisting Mr Evans and Ms James for less than a month. Many of the important court hearings happened before this time.
Before our involvement, for example, Mr Evans and Ms James were represented by the eminent QC Stephen Knafler who argued this case to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Sadly, Mr Knafler and his legal team were not successful.
We believe that a particularly important event for the future direction of this case occurred in February 2018 – again, before our involvement.
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.
Significantly, at this hearing, Mr Evans and Ms James had no legal representation.
In our view this lack of representation, especially in such a complex ‘life and death’ matter had major repercussions for the future outworking of the case.
It was at this hearing that the court found that it was in Alfie’s ‘best interests’ to have treatment withdrawn and to be allowed to die.
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’.
Having already lost appeals to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Evans contacted the Christian Legal Centre in early April – under a month ago.
Since then, we have sought to serve Mr Evans and Ms James. Our highest concern has always been Alfie’s best interests. We have offered our services entirely pro bono, and members of our team have worked tirelessly, laying aside other commitments.
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.
Given the stage of the case at which our involvement was requested by Alfie’s parents, the legal options available were limited.
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.
In the short period of our involvement, our highly experienced Standing Counsel Paul Diamond took the case from the High Court to the Court of Appeal, to the Supreme Court, and to the European Court – and then back again to the High Court and to the Court of Appeal. We can think of no other organisation that would have achieved this in such a short period.
Our focus has been the legal case but we note that during this period, Alfie secured Italian citizenship, an intervention from the Pope and the offer of a military air ambulance.
We also recognise that Alfie’s plight has attracted widespread public and media interest. Many individuals and groups have offered comment, and some have engaged in various campaigns such as Alfie’s Army. These campaigns and communications were not ours – our focus was the legal case.
In recent days, in addition to significant support we have endured some media and judicial criticism. We consider this unfair and detrimental.
We reject the prejudicial and inflammatory comments made by Mr Justice Hayden. We also reject the portrayal by the Court of Appeal of our role in this case and the assistance that we have offered to Mr Evans.
There have also been factual inaccuracies in some media reporting, especially about the extent and starting point of our involvement.
We also wish to make clear that we do not support the criminal prosecution of doctors involved in Alfie’s care.
Again, we underline that our driving concern throughout our short involvement in this case has been to contend for little Alfie’s best interests and to serve his parents.
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 Mr Evans, Ms James and Alfie Evans. 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.”