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Judge deciding seriously-ill child’s future appeals to lawyers ahead of hearings

Mr Justice MacDonald is due to decide whether five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb should be allowed to die, following hearings in the High Court next week.

A judge is to make decisions about the future of five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb following a trial next week (Family handout/PA)
A judge is to make decisions about the future of five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb following a trial next week (Family handout/PA)

By Brian Farmer, PA

A High Court judge preparing to decide whether a seriously-ill child should be allowed to die has told lawyers that he wants the “temperature” of exchanges kept down during hearings.

Mr Justice MacDonald is due to make decisions about the future of five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb following a trial next week at the High Court in London.

He says he has been concerned about the “tenor” of written exchanges between lawyers representing hospital bosses, the youngster and her parents.

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Tafida Raqeeb suffered a traumatic brain injury in February (Family handout/PA)

Doctors treating Tafida, who turned five on June 10, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel say there is no chance of recovery.

Hospital bosses want Mr Justice MacDonald to decide whether stopping “life-sustaining treatment” is in the youngster’s best interests.

Tafida’s mother, solicitor Shelina Begum, and father Mohammed Raqeeb, a construction consultant, want to move her to Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa, Italy.

The couple, from Newham, east London, say Gaslini is the Italian equivalent of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and specialists there are willing to treat their daughter.

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Shelina Begum outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Sian Harrison/PA)

“I am concerned with an issue of the utmost gravity,” Mr Justice MacDonald told lawyers at a preliminary hearing in London on Thursday.

“It is incumbent on advocates to keep the temperature down.”

He added: “I have been concerned about the tenor of some of the correspondence.”

The judge has been told that Tafida suffered a traumatic brain injury in February and is receiving life-support treatment.

Barrister Katie Gollop QC, who is leading Barts Health NHS Trust’s legal team, told Mr Justice MacDonald on Thursday that Tafida had “very serious, permanent and irreversible damage to her brain”.

She said the youngster had been an inpatient at the Royal London Hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit for more than four months.

“Since around mid-July, (Tafida’s) parents and doctors have not been able to reach agreement about whether her treatment should continue,” she said.

“Given the lack of agreement, the trust applied to the Family Division of the High Court for a determination of Tafida’s best interests.”

She added: “In July, the Gaslini hospital in Italy offered to provide continuing treatment starting immediately.

“Tafida’s parents, who wish to move her there, have secured private funding to pay for treatment in Italy.

“Tafida makes a claim for judicial review of what is described as the trust’s refusal to allow her to travel to Italy.”

There was also evidence that a Saudi prince had offered to pay for Tafida’s treatment, and cover legal costs, the lawyer said.

She added that doctors’ views on whether treatment should continue had nothing to do with money.

PA

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