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Father of cryogenically-frozen girl 'did not get to view her body'

Published 19/11/2016

The Royal Courts of Justice in London
The Royal Courts of Justice in London

The father of a 14-year-old girl whose remains have been frozen after a High Court judge's ruling said he last saw his daughter alive nine years ago and did not get to view her body before it was cryogenically preserved.

The teenager, who died on October 17, was terminally ill and had wanted her remains to be frozen in the hope she could be revived in the future.

But her divorced parents became embroiled in a dispute relating to whether her remains should be taken to a specialist facility in the United States and cryogenically frozen.

The girl, who lived in the London area with her mother and had a rare form of cancer, had taken legal action.

She had asked Mr Justice Peter Jackson to rule that her mother - who supported her wish to be cryogenically preserved - should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body.

Ultimately, Mr Justice Jackson made the ruling she wanted - following a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London - shortly before she died.

But speaking to The Telegraph, the girl's father spoke of his sadness and blamed his former partner for stopping him seeing the child's body before it was embalmed and frozen.

The man, who is also suffering from cancer, said: "Last time I saw her was in 2007. The reason for this is purely her mother's doing - she said 'no way, full stop'.

"She has caused this sadness between me and my daughter and she died in the end without me being able to see her."

The girl's solicitor, Zoe Fleetwood, said Mr Justice Jackson had ruled on a dispute between parents - not on people's rights to have their remains frozen.

Ms Fleetwood, who is based at Dawson Cornwell, said the teenager had described Mr Justice Jackson as her ''hero'' after learning of his decision days before she died.

Mr Justice Jackson had said nothing about the case could be reported while the teenager was alive, after she said media coverage would distress her, and said he had been moved by the "valiant way" in which she had faced her "predicament".

He also ruled no one involved could be identified - again in line with the girl's wishes.

The teenager, who had been too ill to attend the court hearing, had been represented by lawyers and had written to the judge explaining she wanted a chance to "live longer".

Mr Justice Jackson had also visited her in hospital.

He said the girl's application was the only one of its kind to have come before a court in England and Wales - and probably anywhere else - and was an example of new questions science posed to lawyers.

Ms Fleetwood on Friday told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ''By October 6, the girl knew that her wishes were going to be followed. That gave her great comfort. She had those last few days knowing that her wish was granted.''

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