Charlie Gard's parents consider options as legal battle continues

Charlie Gard's parents are considering their next steps ahead of the latest High Court hearing in a five-month legal battle over whether the terminally-ill baby should be treated by a specialist in America.

A judge had been scheduled to analyse evidence at a two-day trial starting at 10am on Monday. Mr Justice Francis had said he aimed to make a decision on Tuesday - and had questioned whether a two-day hearing would be long enough. But the hearing has now been re-listed and is scheduled to start at 2pm on Monday. Lawyers have given no explanation for the scheduling change.

On Friday a barrister representing Great Ormond Street Hospital doctors caring for the 11-month-old boy told Chris Gard and Connie Yates that a report on the latest scan made for "sad reading".

Ms Yates burst into tears when Katie Gollop QC broke the news at a preliminary hearing in the Family Division of the High Court on Friday. Mr Justice Francis asked Ms Gollop not to reveal full detail of the report - the judge indicated that Charlie's parents should be given time to consider it privately.

Last week the American specialist, Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, travelled to London to examine Charlie for the first time and discuss the case with Great Ormond Street doctors. Lawyers had told the judge that they would analyse reports from the gathering over the weekend.

Mr Justice Francis has considered the latest stage of the case at public hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Gard and Ms Yates have asked judges to rule that Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial in New York.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street say the therapy is experimental and will not help.

They say life support treatment should stop.

Charlie's parents, who are in their 30s and come from Bedfont, west London, have already lost battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London.

They have also failed to persuade European Court of Human Rights judges to intervene.

But the couple say there is new evidence and had asked Mr Justice Francis, who in April ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street and said Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity, to change his mind.

Mr Justice Francis said he would not re-run the case but would consider any ''new material''.

Supporters of Charlie and his family gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Sunday.

The group, holding placards and banners, formed outside the gates of the building to show their solidarity with his parents.

PA


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