Parents furious that Charlie Gard's guardian heads charity that backs assisted dying
Charlie Gard's parents are reported to be angry that the lawyer appointed to speak on behalf of the terminally-ill baby in court heads a charity that backs assisted dying.
Parents have privately expressed their concern after discovering that Charlie's guardian lawyer Victoria Butler-Cole, is chairman of Compassion in Dying, a sister organisation to Dignity in Dying, the Telegraph reports.
The two charities share the same chief executive and media team.
Charlie's parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, do not believe their son needs a guardian and that they alone should speak for him.
Butler-Cole is his Cafcass guardian. Cafcass represents children in the family courts.
A statement on the hospital website says: 'Charlie's parents fundamentally believe that they alone have the right to decide what treatment Charlie has and does not have. They do not believe that Great Ormond Street should have had the right to apply to the Court for an independent, objective decision to be made. They do not believe that there is any role for a Judge or a court. They believe that only they can and should speak for Charlie and they have said many times that they feel they have been stripped of their rights as parents.
'GOSH holds and is bound by different principles. A world where only parents speak and decide for children and where children have no separate identity or rights and no court to hear and protect them is far from the world in which GOSH treats its child patients.
'Throughout this court process, Charlie has been represented by his Cafcass Guardian who has visited him in hospital, spoken to Charlie's parents, nurses and doctors and written reports that ensure that as much as is possible for a desperately unwell baby, Charlies own viewpoint is articulated and given weight. When asked what happens to the role of the Guardian if their belief that only they have the right to decide on Charlie's treatment is correct, Charlie's parents answer that he does not need a Guardian because they will speak for him.'
Charlie suffers from a serious genetic condition for which there is no known cure and which has left him seriously disabled with brain damage. They have raised £1.3 million through crowdfunding and want to fly him to the United States for experimental treatment. At the court hearings last week, Mr Justice Francis agreed that the doctor who has pioneered this research, Dr Michio Harano, should fly to London over the weekend. Today, the doctor is examining Charlie to see if the treatment can offer any hope.
A source close to the parents told the Telegraph: 'The family find it astonishing that the quango that appointed the barrister to act in the interests of Charlie Gard is the chairman of Compassion in Dying, the sister body of Dignity in Dying, formerly known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. The implication is obvious. It looks like a profound conflict of interest.'
Compassion in Dying said it was wrong to suggest there was any conflict of interest: 'There are clear differences between this case, the work of Dignity in Dying and the work of Compassion in Dying. The Charlie Gard case is about making decisions in the best interests of a seriously ill child.'
According to the statement on the Great Ormond Street Hospital website, the view of Charlie's treating team and all those from whom GOSH obtained second opinions, 'he has no quality of life and no real prospect of any quality of life'.