Photo Credits: Breitbart
A five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb has been in a coma since a blood vessel ruptured in her brain in February and she is on a life-support machine at Royal London hospital. Her parents wanted to fly her to Italy for treatment but doctors at the hospital, part of Bart’s NHS trust, said it would not be in her best interests and life-support should be withdrawn. They also asked the high court to adjudicate in the case last month. The high court should decide about her fate at a five-day hearing at the high court, central London.
Tafida’s mother, Shelina Begum, obtained a fatwa – a ruling in Islamic law – from the Islamic Council of Europe, which concluded that it would be a “great sin” and “absolutely impermissible” for the parents or anyone else to consent to the removal of life support.
Barts NHS trust, which runs the hospital, made an application on Thursday for one of Tafida’s female relatives to be removed as her “litigation friend,” a child’s representative in court. In written submissions, Katie Gollop QC, acting for Barts, said: “The trust submits that particularly in light of the fatwa, no member of the family is suitable to act as litigation friend.” She continued: “It is not possible for the family to be open-minded about the fact that a best interest decision made by the [high court’s] family division is, or may be, in Tafida’s best interests.”
In response, David Lock QC, acting for Begum and Tafida’s father, Mohammed Raqeeb, told the court: “However you dress it up, that’s an outrageous statement for a public body to make.” He added: “Removing the LF [litigation friend] on the sole ground that she holds to the tenets of a major religion and therefore, as a result of her religious convictions, cannot be anticipated to act in a way that reflects the child’s interests is not only highly offensive but would also be unlawful.”
This is a very complex case because doctors have to make the decision that is best for the child, while the parents always hope that their kid will recover.
The judge, Alistair MacDonald QC, rejected the trust’s application, meaning the female relative, who cannot be named under reporting restrictions, can act as Tafida’s litigation friend next week.
The case is similar to that of both Charlie Gard, who died in July 2017 aged 11 months, and Alfie Evans, who passed away in April last year shortly before his second birthday. In both those cases, the High Court ruled the children, who both had genetic brain disorders, should be kept in the country and given palliative care only – against their parents’ wishes.