On its surface, the Alfie Evans story bears little relevance to the Hampstead SRA hoax. What comparison could possibly be made between a little boy with an undiagnosable but clearly progressive degenerative brain condition, and a monstrous hoax, deliberately perpetrated by a small but persistent group of co-conspirators against an entire community?
We’ve noted the eagerness of certain Hoaxtead promoters to leap—and more important, to be seen to leap—into the circus which surrounded Alfie and his family. But when we read a recent article in The Guardian, we realised that the two cases had more in common than one might initially expect.
In the article, titled “‘Call from God’: American Pro-Lifer’s Role in Alfie Evans Battle”, we learned that a small group of Catholic fundamentalists, led by an American woman named Christine Broesamle, had inserted itself into the story as long ago as last August.
Within days of the death of 11-month-old Charlie Gard last July, a Christian missionary in Rome spotted a Facebook post about a baby named Alfie Evans. The post by Alfie’s father, Thomas Evans, explained that his 13-month-old son had a degenerative neurological condition and that doctors wanted to switch off his life-support.
Ms Broesamle, whose group had been involved in the Charlie Gard case, advising his parents to fly him to Italy for treatment and attracting the attention of the Pope to his case, told Tom Evans that they could do the same for Alfie.
Since September, Ms Broesamle has lived in Liverpool, acting behind the scenes as an advisor to Alfie’s parents.
This week in an interview with a Christian fundamentalist radio station in the US, she said there should be riots in Britain over Alfie’s treatment by doctors at Alder Hey hospital, whom she accused of being “hellbent” on killing him “to cover something up”.
Ms Broesamle, who was named in court last week, is connected to the Italian “pro-life” organisation “Lawyers for Life”.
She brought in physicians from overseas to examine Alfie in a clandestine manner, under the guise of being family friends; she also brought in a Russian law student, Pavel Stroilov of the “pro-life”, anti-gay Christian Legal Centre. Mr Justice Hayden described Mr Stroilov as a “fanatical and deluded young man” whose submissions to the court were “littered with vituperation and bile” that was “inconsistent with the real interests of the parents’ case”.
Ms Broesamle also appears to be well-funded:
Another source says Broesamle had access to a “seemingly endless pit of money and contacts”, and her network arranged for air ambulances to be ready at a moment’s notice to whisk Alfie from Alder Hey to the Vatican-approved Bambino Gesù hospital in Italy.
Remind you of anyone?
As we read the Guardian article, we found it difficult not to make comparisons with Belinda McKenzie and Sabine McNeill’s “Association of McKenzie Friends” (and the later “Knight Foundation”), whose founders were known for their habit of lurking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, offering their special brand of assistance to desperate parents whose children had been, or were about to be, taken into care by social services.
As with Ms Broesamle and the Christian Legal Centre, who darkly accused Alder Hey Hospital of “covering something up”, Sabine and Belinda were known for filling their victims’ heads with paranoid conspiracy theories—such as their canard that social workers, working on commission, were “snatching” their children in order to sell them to the highest bidders, who would adopt them for the specific purpose of trafficking them.
Like the Christian Legal Centre, with its submissions laced with “vituperation and bile”, “inconsistent with the real interests of the parents’ case”, Belinda and Sabine’s interventions in their clients’ cases never once managed to help a parent retrieve his or her children.
And, as in the Alfie Evans case, we think Sabine and Belinda were never in any doubt that their interference in their clients’ lives, in any of the cases they undertook, would come to no good.
That’s because organisations like this aren’t in it to win. They are in it to use the lives (and deaths) of other people to advance their own ideologically driven agendas, to create “profile”, to arouse public outrage which they can then turn to their own advantage.
The words used by Mr Justice Hayden—”fanatical”, “deluded”, “emotive nonsense”—can be equally applied to the Christian Law Centre and the Association of McKenzie Friends.
And just for the record, we’d like to add another word: “Vultures”.