In recent news, Charlie Gard, a child with a rare mitochondrial syndrome, was prevented from seeking experimental treatment in the United States by an array of different courts including the European court of human rights. This means that Charlie will die in the hospital.

My question is: if a nurse/doctor inside the hospital where Charlie is staying aids the parents in getting Charlie out of the hospital regardless of the court decisions, what would be the consequences for the nurse/doctor?

The hospital is located in England.

2 Answers 2


You need to consider that a court made a very difficult decision here. They have expert witnesses that say quite clearly that it is not in the interest of the baby to have any treatment, because the proposed treatment has no chance of success, and the baby's life quality is exactly zero. In other words, it is in the baby's best interest if people just let it die.

A nurse helping the parents to abduct the baby would be acting against the best interest of the patient, and would be doing so fully intentional. So being removed from her profession would be very likely. Contempt of court would be very likely. And finally there would be the risk that this would all be interpreted as kidnapping, with very bad consequences for the nurse indeed.

  • You used the term "abduct the baby" and "kidnapping", even though I specifically stated in my post that she would be aiding the parents. Does that mean that the hospital has full legal custody of the child and the parents have none?
    – Rstew
    Jul 5, 2017 at 14:40

This is the crime of Contempt of Court and is punishable in England by a fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years. Conviction may also be grounds for deregistration as a medical professional.

  • Would an employee be liable for contempt of court if the court hadn't actually ordered the hospital to keep the baby on its premises?
    – phoog
    Jul 5, 2017 at 3:43
  • @phoog contempt is a strict liability offense in England - it doesn't matter if you know about the order or not.
    – Dale M
    Jul 5, 2017 at 4:52

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