'Call from God': American pro-lifer's role in Alfie Evans battle
UK news 'Call from God': American pro-lifer's role in Alfie Evans battle
Catholic fundamentalists advised Alfieâs parents and arranged for medical experts to assess the terminally ill child before his death
Within days of the death of 11-month-old Charlie Gard last July, a Christian missionary in Rome spotted a Facebook post about a baby named Alfie Evans. The post by Alfieâs father, Thomas Evans, explained that his 13-month-old son had a degene rative neurological condition and that doctors wanted to switch off his life-support. The case of Alfie, who died on Saturday at Alder Hey childrenâs hopsital in Liverpool, five days after his life support was switched off, was little known outside Liverpool. That soon changed.
Christine Broesamle, an American âpro-lifeâ activist based in Italy, got in touch with Evans. Her friends were advising Charlieâs parents about flying him to Italy for treatment, she said, and the same could be done for Alfie. Unsurprisingly, Evans took up her offer of help.
After a month of working on the case from Rome, Broesamle answered what she described as a call from God and moved to Liverpool. Since last September she has lived in Merseyside and played a key role behind the scenes, advising Alfieâs parents.
This week in an interview with a Christian fundamentalist radio station in the US, she said there should be riots in Britain over Alfieâs treatment by doctors at Alder Hey hospital, whom she accused of being âhellbentâ on killing him âto cover something upâ.
A source close to the case has told the Guardian that Broesamle arranged for doctors to fly in from overseas to pose as family friends and medically examine Alfie. A paediatric oncologist, Dr Katarzyna Jakowska, and a colleague allegedly assessed both Alfie Evans and Isaiah Haastrup, a one-year-old child at the centre of a similar life-support battle, on the same day at different hospitals under the guise of being family friends.
Broesamleâs role, and that of a Russian law student, can be revealed afte r a fraught week of unsuccessful appeals to courts, protests by hundreds of supporters and âunprecedentedâ personal abuse of medical staff on social media.
While the arguments raged, Alfie has defied the bleakest forecasts and lived without life support from Monday until 2.30am on Saturday. Evans and Kate James, Alfieâs mother, who spends hours cuddling her boy in his hospital bed, had wanted to take the terminally ill child home for the first time in 16 months.
On Wednesday appeal court judges called for a wider investigation into concerns that the parentsâ legal representation âmay have been infiltrated or compromisedâ. The Guardian has learned that an international network of Catholic fundamentalists has played a growing role in advising Alfieâs parents, including organising Evansâ audience with the pope last week, arranging a string of medical experts to assess Alfie, and replacing the familyâs Liverpool-based legal team with the anti-LGBT Christi an Legal Centre this month.
Broesamle, who was named in court this week after six months of keeping out of the spotlight in Britain, is connected to the Italian âpro-liferâ network Giuristi per la Vita (Lawyers for Life), whose president has spoken about âsecretlyâ advising Charlie Gardâs parents before his death on 28 July last year. The group works closely with the Italian lawyer Bruno Quintavalle, who has acted for the families of both Alfie Evans and Isaiah Haastrup.
Another source says Broesamle had access to a âseemingly endless pit of money and contactsâ, and her network arranged for air ambulances to be ready at a momentâs notice to whisk Alfie from Alder Hey to the Vatican-approved Bambino GesÃ¹ hospital in Italy.
Broesamle arranged for Alfieâs assessment by Dr Matthias HÃ¼bner, a medical director of the paediatric air ambulance in Munich, Germany, which the high court heard had taken place âin a clandestine manner, [HÃ¼bner] posing as a friend of the familyâ. HÃ¼bner was said by the judge to have fallen âso far below the standards expected of his professionâ.
Evans has credited Broesamle with organising the audience with the pope, but sources close to her say the meeting was arranged by two journalists from La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, a Catholic newspaper whose coverage has been critical of the hospital and courts.
When contacted by the Guardian, Broesamle declined to speak on the record about the case, saying âone wrong move and it goes nuts and the hospital really hates me because Iâve worked so h ard for Alfieâs defenceâ.
Those close to her have been angered by the UK mediaâs coverage of the case, and they directed the Guardian to the Catholic fundamentalist website Church Militant, which on Thursday published an article about the high court judge in Alfieâs case, Mr Justice Hayden, pointing out that he was âa pro-gay advocate and member of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group (BLAGG), a network of gay lawyers in the United Kingdomâ.
In court, Pavel Stroilov, the Christian Legal Centre law student representing Alfieâs parents, came in for the most searing criticism this week. He was described b y Hayden as a âfanatical and deluded young manâ whose submissions to the court were âlittered with vituperation and bileâ that was âinconsistent with the real interests of the parentsâ caseâ.
A Russian exile who has worked as a researcher for the current Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, since 2011, Stroilov was behind the attempt by Alfieâs parents to pursue a private prosecution for murder against three Alder Hey doctors.
It is understood that Alder Heyâs legal team is considering pursuing a contempt of court case against Stroilov unless he provides details of his legal qualifications. âThere are grave concerns about the wholly misleading advice that was provided by Mr Stroilov,â said a source close to Alder Heyâs legal team. Stroilov did not respond to a request for comment.
The Christian Legal Centre described the media and judicial criticism of its role in the case as âunfair and detrimentalâ. It said it rejected the âprejudicial a nd inflammatoryâ comments by Hayden and it did not support the criminal prosecution of doctors involved in Alfieâs care.
On Thursday night, Evans struck a more conciliatory tone when he appeared outside Alder Hey and praised the âdignity and professionalismâ of Alfieâs doctors, with whom he said he wanted to âbuild bridgesâ so his son could be brought home.
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