Alfie EvansImage copyright Kate James
Image caption Alfie Evans' condition in Alder Hey Children's Hospital has been described as "semi-vegetative"

The life support of seriously ill toddler Alfie Evans has been withdrawn, his father has said.

Tom Evans said the 23-month-old's life support was turned off on Monday but Alfie was breathing on his own and had been given oxygen.

It comes after his parents lost legal challenges against a High Court ruling in February that Alder Hey Children's Hospital could withdraw life support.

A further hearing will be held this afternoon.

The hospital said it would "not be issuing any updates on his condition".

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionTom Evans: 'He's been doing this for nine hours, totally unexpected"

Speaking outside the hospital, Mr Evans said: "[Alfie] is now on oxygen. It's not changing his breathing but it's oxygenating his body.

"He is still working, he's doing as good as he can but we do need him to be supported in the next hour. It's going to be hard."

A candle-lit vigil was held by supporters of Alfie outside the hospital overnight, where earlier in the day protesters had tried to storm the entrance.

In a statement on Twitter Alder Hey bosses said "out of respect for the privacy of Alfie and his family" it would not be commenting on the toddler's condition, in line with "normal and agreed practice with all our patients".

Mr Justice Hayden, the High Court judge who ruled doctors could stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents, is scheduled to hear more discussion at a hearing in Manchester after 15:30 BST.

On Monday, the same judge dismissed fresh submissions heard in private from lawyers representing Mr Evans and Alfie's mother Kate James on Monday evening.

Earlier in the day, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted Alfie Italian citizenship, hoping it would allow him an "immediate transfer to Italy".

His parents had hoped he could be taken to the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, which has links to the Vatican, where his care could continue.

Barrister Paul Diamond, who represents the couple, told the judge that an Italian government representative wanted to intervene in the case and asked for more time.

But Michael Mylonas QC, who leads Alder Hey's team, said any granting of Italian citizenship made no difference.

Mr Justice Hayden later dismissed the application, saying: "Alfie is a British citizen, he is undoubtedly habitually resident in the UK.

"He falls therefore under the jurisdiction of the High Court."

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionProtesters tried to storm the Alder Hey Children's Hospital entrance

Pope Francis renewed his support for the family on Monday by tweeting: "Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted."

Skip Twitter post by @Pontifex

Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018

End of Twitter post by @Pontifex

The hospital has argued that keeping Alfie on a ventilator is not in "his best interests" and any further treatment was not only "futile" but also "unkind and inhumane".

Alfie has been in Alder Hey since December 2016 with a rare undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition.