06:09, May 02 124 0 theguardian.com

2018-05-02 06:09:04
Legal watchdog may investigate Christian group over Alfie Evans case

The Christian campaign group that acted for the family of Alfie Evans could face an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Guardian has learned.

The legal watchdog confirmed it was reviewing the Christian Legal Centre’s role in the high-profile life-support battle that ended with the death of the 23-month-old boy on Saturday, five days after he was removed from a ventilator.

Three court of appeal judges criticised the role of supporters who may have “infiltrated or compromised” the legal representation of Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James.

The high court judge Mr Justice Hayden was particularly critical of the role of Pavel Stroilov, a Russian-born law student who appeared to have taken the lead in representing Alfie’s parents for the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).

The judge described Stroilov, who formerly worked for the Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, as a “fanatical and deluded young man” whose legal advice was “inconsistent with the real interests of the parents’ case”.

The SRA has not yet decided whether to launch a formal investigation but is assessing concerns surrounding the CLC’s involvement. An SRA spokesman said: “We can confirm we will review the information provided and consider if any next steps are appropriate.

“Only those authorised by a legal services regulatory such as the SRA are allowed to carry out reserved legal activities, as defined within section 12 of the Legal Services Act 2007, within the English and Welsh legal system.”

Tom Evans was presented with an award at Everton football club’s annual end-of-season ceremony, the Dixies, on Tuesday night in his first public appearance since Alfie’s death at 2.30am on Saturday.

Receiving the Blueblood award, given to those who “embody the Evertonian spirit”, Evans said he had dreamed his son would follow in Wayne Rooney’s footsteps by playing for the club. “Alfie will always be a part of Everton,” he said.

CLC has not yet responded to the SRA’s review of its role but said in a statement on Friday that it rejected the “unfair and detrimental” criticism by judges and commentators.

It said that in the three weeks of its involvement, its barrister Paul Diamond “took the case from the high court to the court of appeal to the supreme court and to the European court – and then back again to the high court and to the court of appeal. We can think of no other organisation that would have achieved this in such a short period.”

Stroilov was described in court as the legal adviser who had encouraged Alfie’s father to pursue a private prosecution for murder against doctors at Alder Hey children’s hospital, where Alfie was treated for a degenerative neurological condition for 16 months.

Hayden also criticised Stroilov after the student gave Evans a letter purporting to be legal advice stating that it would be lawful for him to remove Alfie from Alder Hey – a letter that the hospital’s legal team blamed for causing a highly-charged standoff between Evans, the police and doctors and ignited protests outside.

Three court of appeal judges said Stroilov’s letter was “misleading to the extent of giving the father false advice”.

The Guardian has since learned that Alder Hey’s legal team is considering bringing contempt of court proceedings against Stroilov after apparently being met with silence when asked for his legal qualifications.

CLC said on Friday: “We reject the prejudicial and inflammatory comments made by Mr Justice Hayden. We also reject the portrayal by the court of appeal of our role in this case and the assistance that we have offered to Mr Evans.”

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