Midrar Ali: Life-support case doctors 'do not need naming'

Midrar Ali Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Midrar Ali was starved of oxygen due to complications at birth

Senior judges have suggested journalists reporting on life-support treatment cases concerning children do not need to name doctors involved.

It follows a dispute over the treatment of a brain-dead baby, Midrar Ali, where hospital staff were granted anonymity.

The order was challenged by Midrar's parents after doctors were told they could lawfully stop treating him.

But appeal court judges said naming medics in press reports could expose them to "pillory" on social media.

Midrar was starved of oxygen when the umbilical cord came out ahead of his birth on 18 September, causing complications.

His father had argued his son had been showing "signs of life" and said treatment should continue.

But doctors at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester said the baby should be allowed a "kind and dignified death".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Midrar's parents Karwan Ali and Shokhan Namiq had asked appeal judges to overturn the High Court ruling

Karwan Ali and Shokhan Namiq had appealed after High Court judge Mrs Justice Lieven concluded in January that their son Midrar was brain stem dead and doctors could lawfully stop treating the four-month-old.

They had also challenged a ruling that doctors involved in Midrar's treatment could not be named in media reports of the case.

The three appeal judges upheld Mrs Justice Lieven's decisions on Friday.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lord Justice Patten and Lady Justice King analysed evidence on the four-month-old and said the order anonymising doctors was right.

Sir Andrew referred to the publicity generated by similar cases involving Charlie Gard, in 2017, and Alfie Evans, in 2018, adding "the manner in which social media may now be deployed to name and pillory an individual is well established".

While he acknowledged the "need for openness and transparency in these difficult, important and, often, controversial cases", he said this can "be more than adequately met through the court's judgments without the need for identifying those who have cared for Midrar with devotion".

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Midrar Ali's parents Karwan Ali and Shokhan Namiq wanted his treatment to continue

In the written ruling, it was noted Midrar's father had made a "number of allegations" in relation to his son's care, which were later concluded to be untrue by Mrs Justice Lieven.

The court heard those allegations, if repeated publicly, would, cause "great distress and place [medics] under further significant psychological pressure over and above that which has been experienced on the ward by those treating Midrar".

Sir Andrew added: "Parents no doubt say and do all manner of things in the tragic and difficult circumstances in which they find themselves in such cases.

"But the judge was entitled to be satisfied that there was a basis for this application being made in this particular case."

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