Judge's sympathy for parents amid High Court dispute over sick baby

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A judge has offered his sympathy to a couple embroiled in a High Court dispute over the future of their sick baby son.

Mr Justice Francis has been asked to make decisions about whether doctors should withdraw life support treatment from seven-month-old Charlie Gard.

He told the little boy's parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, that the situation they were in was tragic.

The judge was speaking as he started to analyse the boy's case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Justice Francis has heard that Charlie suffers from a rare genetic condition.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London think the little boy should be allowed to die with dignity.

But his parents want to take Charlie to a hospital in the United States for pioneering treatment.

"It is the most tragic situation," Mr Justice Francis told the couple.

"I just start by saying how deeply sympathetic I am."

He said the family was in a "dreadful situation".

The judge is examining preliminary issues.

He is expected to list the case for a trial in the near future.

Barrister Katie Gollop QC, who represented Great Ormond Street Hospital bosses, told him: "The hospital's position is that every day that passes is a day that is not in the child's best interests."