UK's highest court rejects latest plea in 'desperately sad' case of Alfie Evans
The UK's highest court has ruled that there can be no further legal delay in the "desperately sad case" of a 23-month-old boy who has been at the centre of a life-support treatment battle.
The parents of Alfie Evans failed to persuade Supreme Court justices to consider their case for a second time.
Tom Evans and Kate James, who are both in their early twenties, had made another application to the court after losing a second fight over their son at the Court of Appeal.
But on Friday a panel of three justices, headed by the court's president Lady Hale, dismissed their application.
Despite the latest decision against them, the parents immediately vowed to carry on their fight.
Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson announced - after considering the parents' application on paper - that Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool "must be free to do what has been determined to be in Alfie's best interests".
In their written decision, they said there was "no reason for further delay".
They added: "There will be no further stay of the Court of Appeal's order.
"The hospital must be free to do what has been determined to be in Alfie's best interests.
"That is the law in this country. No application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg can or should change that."
Giving reasons for their decision, the justices said it was a "desperately sad case".
They said: "It is sad principally, of course, for Alfie's parents, for they love their little boy dearly and want to do all in their power to keep him alive.
"But it is also sad for the people who have been keeping Alfie alive for so long, the doctors and nurses who are treating him in Alder Hey Hospital.
"Those of us who have to deal with this case dispassionately as a point of law can feel for their sadness."
The justices said: "Alfie looks like a normal baby, but the unanimous opinion of the doctors who have examined him and the scans of his brain is that almost all of his brain has been destroyed.
"No-one knows why. But that it has happened and is continuing to happen cannot be denied.
"It means that Alfie cannot breathe, or eat, or drink without sophisticated medical treatment.
"It also means that there is no hope of his ever getting better."
In February, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that doctors at Alder Hey could stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents, after hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and Liverpool.
Specialists at Alder Hey said life-support treatment should stop and Mr Justice Hayden said he accepted medical evidence which showed that further treatment was futile.
Alfie's parents wanted to move their son from Alder Hey to a hospital in Rome.
After the Supreme Court's announcement, a legal representative said the family are to make another appeal to courts in Strasbourg to keep their son alive.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is now representing Alfie's family, said: "We are going to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights hoping we can stay the end of life order our courts have made.
"We are appealing today because we have got to act quickly. The parents are devoted parents."