Mother loses Supreme Court fight over brain-damaged daughter’s treatment

Brian Farmer, PA
·2-min read

A single mother who wants doctors to keep treating her brain-damaged five-year-old daughter has lost a Supreme Court fight.

Paula Parfitt, who is in her early 40s and from Strood, Kent, thinks Pippa Knight should leave hospital and wants specialists to stage a homecare trial.

Doctors treating Pippa, who is in a vegetative state at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, disagree and say life-support treatment should end.

Pippa Knight
Five-year-old Pippa Knight (Family Handoutula Parfitt/Sinclairslaw)

Ms Parfitt had lost fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal and wanted Supreme Court justices to consider the case.

She first had to get permission to stage a challenge to the appeal judges’ ruling.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said on Friday that a panel of three justices had refused to give Ms Parfitt permission to mount a Supreme Court challenge after considering a written application.

Campaign group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc) has paid for lawyers to represent Ms Parfitt and was willing to fund a Supreme Court challenge.

Spuc’s deputy chief executive, John Deighan, said Ms Parfitt was “understandably devastated” by the Supreme Court decision.

A High Court judge ruled against Ms Parfitt earlier this year.

Ms Parfitt and Pippa outside Evelina London Children’s Hospital
Ms Parfitt and Pippa outside Evelina London Children’s Hospital (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children)

Mr Justice Poole decided that treatment could lawfully end and said Pippa should be allowed to die.

Three appeal judges had upheld Mr Justice Poole’s decision after a Court of Appeal hearing

Mr Justice Poole heard evidence at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London in December, and delivered a ruling in January.

The judge, who heard that Pippa’s father was dead, described the case as “heart-rending”.

Pippa was born in April 2015, and is close to her sixth birthday, and initially developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures, the judge heard.

Doctors had diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy.