Couple in life-support battle criticise European court judges


A couple whose 12-month-old son has been at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute have criticised European judges after their "last resort" appeal was dismissed.

Lanre Haastrup and Takesha Thomas say the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, has "decided to abandon justice" when considering their son Isaiah's case.

The couple had asked the ECHR to intervene after losing two legal battles in England.

An ECHR spokesman on Tuesday said three judges had examined issues and declared the couple's application "inadmissible".

Mr Haastrup on Wednesday said judges had not listened to arguments.

A High Court judge has given doctors permission to provide only palliative care to Isaiah against the wishes of Mr Haastrup and Miss Thomas.

Mr Justice MacDonald analysed evidence at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in January.

Specialists at King's College Hospital in London had said providing further intensive care treatment was futile and not in Isaiah's best interests.

Mr Haastrup and Miss Thomas, who are both in their 30s and from Peckham, south-east London, subsequently failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice MacDonald's decision.

They then made a written application to the ECHR as a "last resort".

An ECHR spokesman said judges had treated the case as "urgent", and added: "In the light of all the material in its possession and in so far as the matters complained of were within its competence, the court found that they did not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the convention or its protocols."

But Mr Haastrup said: "The ECHR decided to abandon justice and instead prioritised the fierce urgency of killing Isaiah. We were not given the opportunity to present our case which we were entitled."

He  said the ECHR had "demonstrated" that it was "little more than a figurehead".

"No thorough reasons for their decision (were given), which suggested that the court was not fair- minded and going by its judgment, does not need to hear us before dismissing our case," he added.

"Therefore, we are disappointed with the ECHR not for the dismissal but for the failure to hear our argument before the dismissal, particularly as the ECHR is the court of last resort."