Mum says she is ‘devastated’ at losing legal fight for treatment for her daughter

A single mother who wants doctors to keep treating her brain-damaged five-year-old daughter says she does not understand how Supreme Court justices ruled against her so quickly.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 5:40 pm
Paula Parfitt and daughter, Pippa Knight.

Paula Parfitt, whose daughter Pippa Knight is in a vegetative state at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, says she was told that Supreme Court judges had ruled against her on April Fool’s Day – less than 24 hours after lawyers had submitted written arguments.

She says the speed of the Supreme Court decision made “no sense” to her.

Ms Parfitt, 41, from Strood, Kent, disagrees with doctors treating Pippa, who say life-support treatment should end. She had lost fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal and wanted Supreme Court judges to consider the case.

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But a Supreme Court spokeswoman said on Friday that a panel of three judges had refused to give Ms Parfitt permission to mount a Supreme Court challenge after considering a written application by lawyers representing her.

Ms Parfitt says she was “devastated” by the decision, which marked the end of her legal battle. “I couldn’t understand how the Supreme Court could make a decision so quickly,” she told the PA news agency on Wednesday.

“I received the news on April Fool’s Day – less than 24 hours after the lawyers had finished sending in their written arguments – just before the start of (the) Easter holiday.

“It somehow didn’t seem to make sense.It was just too quick.” She added: “I was hoping I’d get a hearing.”

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.

Last week, a spokesman said Spuc deplored the Supreme Court decision, which would end Pippa’s life.

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

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

He 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 on April 20 2015 and had initially developed normally, but in December 2016 she became unwell and began to suffer seizures, the judge heard.

Doctors had diagnosed acute necrotising encephalopathy.

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

The Supreme Court spokeswoman said three Supreme Court judges had concluded that Pippa’s case raised “no arguable point of law” which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court.

“Lord Hodge, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lady Arden and Lord Stephens have considered this application for leave to appeal to (the) Supreme Court,” the spokeswoman had said in a statement on Friday.

“They consider it essential to acknowledge not only the love lavished on Pippa by her mother but also her selfless and total devotion to Pippa.

“The justices have anxiously scrutinised all aspects of the factual and legal reasoning of the judge, and of the Court of Appeal, combining that with careful and full consideration of all the submissions.”