Wednesday, 02 May 2018

Political Retribution? Watchdog Group May Investigate Legal Team That Represented Alfie Evans' Parents

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), a legal watchdog that regulates lawyers and firms in England and Wales, has announced that it may pursue an investigation against the Christian Legal Centre’s role in the controversial legal battle over life support that ended with the death of 23-month-old Alfie Evans in England, five days after the baby was removed from his ventilator. Critics who claim that Alfie Evans should not have been taken off life support point to the investigation as political retribution and the latest example of England’s descent into tyranny.

Though the SRA has not made an official decision as to whether it would launch an investigation, the watchdog became interested in the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) after three court-of-appeal judges who rejected an appeal by the parents of Alfie Evans to allow the child to seek treatment in Italy criticized the role of supporters, whom they claim “infiltrated or compromised” the parents’ legal representation.

The Guardian reports that Justice Andrew Hayden was particularly critical of Pavel Stroilov, a Russian-born law student who took a lead in representing Alfie’s parents for the CLC. Judge Hayden claimed Stroilov was a “fanatical and deluded young man” whose legal advice was “inconsistent with the real interests of the parents’ case.”

The SRA claims it has legal standing to investigate the group and Stroilov’s involvement. “Only those authorised by a legal services regulatory such as the SRA are allowed to carry out reserved legal activities, as defined within section 12 of the Legal Services Act 2007, within the English and Welsh legal system,” the group claims.

For the very same reason, however, Stroilov may not fall under the group’s jurisdiction, as he is not a qualified lawyer.

But while the SRA hides behind the Legal Services Act 2007, critics view the actions as yet another blow against liberty in England. The high-court judges took issue with Stroilov in particular because he encouraged Alfie’s father, Thomas Evans, to pursue a private prosecution for murder against doctors at Alder Hey children’s hospital, where Alfie was treated for an undiagnosed condition for more than a year. Interestingly, Justice Hayden made specific mention of this just before issuing his decision to reject Alfie’s parents appeal to take their baby boy to Italy for further treatment. Justice Hayden accused Mr. Evans of harboring hostility against the doctors at the hospital just before rejecting the father’s appeal, adding fodder to claims by supporters that the judicial system colluded with the hospital against Alfie’s family.

During his ruling, Justice Hayden blamed an unnamed “malign hand,” understood to be Stroilov, for convincing Mr. Evans to lodge the private prosecution against hospital doctors.

Lord Justice McFarlane told the barrister of Mr. Evans, Paul Diamond, at the appeal-court hearing, "Your client purported to take out a private prosecution to have three named doctors charged with the criminal offence of conspiracy to murder."

"Those summonses were served on the doctors and I hear you say that there is no hostility to the NHS."

Hayden also criticized Stroilov for advising Evans that it was lawful for him to remove Alfie from Alder Hey, claiming that it was Stroilov’s advice that resulted in the standoff between Alfie’s family and supporters and the hospital and police.

U.K.’s Premier reports that Hayden claimed that Stroilov’s legal advice “was misleading to the extent of giving the father false advice. We have been told that it had the most regrettable consequence in that it led to a confrontation in which Alfie was involved. The police had to be called.”

Of course, that confrontation could have been avoided altogether if Alfie’s parents simply would have been permitted to make medical decisions on behalf of their son.

And while Evans and his legal team were berated for pursuing legal action against the hospital and for attempting to secure the parental rights of Alfie’s mother and father, Merseyside Police warned that any threats or malicious comments made on social media by Alfie's supporters against staff at Alder Hey would be investigated and could lead to prosecutions. It seemed that the government was bent on limiting free speech.

More than that, an unnamed doctor who gave testimony against Alfie’s parents' appeal said that for Alfie to have any chance of being released from the hospital to go home, the child’s family required a “sea change” in attitude. In other words, not only were the family’s and supporters’ free speech being regulated, but their overall attitude toward the doctors and the court were being monitored too. 

The CLC has not yet commented on the possible SRA investigation, but the group did reject the statements made by Hayden against their representation. “We reject the prejudicial and inflammatory comments made by Mr Justice Hayden. We also reject the portrayal by the court of appeal of our role in this case and the assistance that we have offered to Mr Evans,” the group said on Friday.

Supporters of Alfie and his family are hopeful that Alfie's tragic case will highlight the need for a “sea change” in England’s healthcare and judicial system so that others do not endure the same fate as Alfie and his family.

Image of Alfie Evans: Screenshot of YouTube video by LifeSiteNews

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