Alfie Evans Vatican vigil as dad plans 'dignified' final days for his son after telling supporters to 'stand down'

Dozens of well-wishers stood in sombre silence at the seat of the Catholic Church as the 23-month-old clung to life at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool.

There were also vigils in outside the British Embassy in Warsaw in support of the terminally-ill tot.

They gathered in prayer as dad Tom Evans, 21, signalled an end to the public campaign to have his sick son released from the children's clinic.

Tom said his supporters. dubbed Alfie's Army, should "return back to your everyday lives" following days of fevered demonstrations outside Alder Hey and on social media.

He said: "We are very grateful and we appreciate all the support we have received from around the world, including from our Italian and Polish supporters, who have dedicated their time and support to our incredible fight."

Latest on the Alfie Evans case:

  • Alfie Evans' parents lose Appeal Court bid to overturn decision stopping the tot being taken to Italy for treatment
  • Dad Tom Evans appears to signal end to public campaign as he calls on supporters to "return back to your everyday lives"
  • Mum Kate James claims Alfie is "struggling and needs immediate intervention"
  • Alder Hey's staff and docs subjected to a "barrage" of abuse, hospital bosses say
  • The Pope put a military air ambulance on standby in an attempt to have the 23-month-old boy be flown to the Vatican
  • Alfie, diagnosed with a brain condition, had his life support removed at 9.17pm on Monday and has been since been put on oxygen
  • Dad Tom Evans tried to privately prosecute three doctors for conspiracy to murder his son, court is told
  • Judge says there is "virtually nothing left" of Alfie's brain 

His statement followed a crunch meeting with doctors as he and partner Kate hope to get Alfie home after their battle to have him airlifted to Italy ended in defeat.

But just hours earlier Tom had blasted medics by claiming they treated his family like "criminals".

He told LBC radio: "We're not like them. We walk around the corridors and they pop into other cubicles to avoid us."

Liverpool NHS staff had been warned to hide their uniforms after receiving "unprecedented personal abuse".

Tom and partner Kate James earlier revealed they would be dropping their legal battle to have Alfie taken to Rome for treatment – and instead simply want to take him home.

In his u-turn statement Tom said last night: "We would now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it.

"We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too.

"Together we recognise the strains (that) recent events have put upon us all and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned.

"In Alfie's interests we will work with his treating team on a plan that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs.

"From this point onwards there will be no more statements issued or interviews given. We hope you will respect this."

Immediately after giving his statement the Alfie's Army Facebook page, which had coordinated the public campaign, was set to private.

And the protest site outside Alder Hey was all but abandoned as supporters left behind balloons and posters garnered over days of vocal and sometimes rowdy demos.

The family have been fighting for months to have Alfie – who is suffering from an unknown degenerative brain condition – flown to Italy for a possible diagnosis and treatment.

They have been supported by Christian groups and the Italian government after Pope Francis personally backed their campaign by gifting an air ambulance to take him to Rome.

Before Tom's statement hundreds of protesters staged a march in London from Buckingham Palace to Parliament — while protests took place in Northern Ireland, Poland and the US.

Speaking earlier, Tom said: "We could take it further, but would it be the right thing to do, would people give me more criticism.

He added: "As I sit next to Alfie's bedside, every second of every day, it encourages me more and more that he will live for 'x' amount of months, possibly years."

Alfie is currently clinging to life as he receives just oxygen, milk and water after being taken off life-support on Monday in line with court backing of Alder Hey doctors.

Tom praised his partner Kate James for sustaining him and their son, saying: "Alfie’s fought through the night the last two nights because he’s been lying on her chest nonstop.

"And him and his mum have become closer now more than ever before."

He added: "I cannot explain how blessed I am to have Alfie and Kate in my life. That's what keeps me fighting".

The previous night Alfie's parents kept a bedside vigil next to their son.

Mum Kate posted a poignant clip of their sleeping tot with the words: "My whole entire world I love you so much baby boy".

The clip was shared just hours after Appeals Court judges ruled the tot would not be flown to Italy.

Protesters had been flocking to the Liverpool children's hospital forcing a heavy police presence while tens of thousands have taken part in the Alfie's Army campaign on social media.

Merseyside Police warned supporters of Alfie's family that their social media posts are being monitored over the abuse of Alder Hey staff.

Ch Insp Chris Gibson said: "Any offences including malicious communications and threatening behaviour will be investigated and where necessary will be acted upon".

And an open letter from the heads of Alder Hey said their staff had been subjected to a "barrage" of abuse both online and in person.

Chairman Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd wrote: "In the last two weeks we have found ourselves at the centre of a social media storm that has included many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff.

"This has led to often inappropriate interventions from a range of external bodies and individuals, some of which have caused significant disruption to our children, families and staff."

And during his ruling rejecting the family's plea to let Alfie go to Rome, Appeal Court judge Lord Justice McFarlane called for an investigation into the "darker side" to some offers of support given to parents of terminally ill children.

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