Archie Battersbee: Parents lose appeal over life support

Image source, Hollie Dance

Image caption,

Parents Hollie Dance (pictured) and Paul Battersbee lost two High Court hearings to get continued life support treatment for their son Archie

The parents of a 12-year-old boy have lost an appeal against a decision to allow life support treatment to end.

Archie Battersbee was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April and the Royal London Hospital believe he is brain dead.

Appeal judges supported a High Court ruling that ending his life support was lawful and in his best interests.

A 48-hour delay to ending treatment has been ordered so the family can appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

In a statement, his mother Hollie Dance, said: “As long as Archie is alive, I will never give up on him; he is too good to give up on.

“We should not have to endlessly battle the hospital in the courts for what we believe is right for Archie.

“Top judges have told us, however, that this is the law. If this so, the law must change.”

She added the family was considering taking the case to the European court in Strasbourg, France.

Archie has not regained consciousness since he was found by his mother Ms Dance, who believes he had been taking part in an online challenge.

Image source, James Manning/PA

Image caption,

Paul Battersbee (pictured at an earlier court hearing) was taken ill before today’s Court of Appeal ruling

Court of Appeal judges in London were asked to postpone their ruling as Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, had been taken ill outside court, but they refused.

It is thought Mr Battersbee may have suffered a heart attack or stroke prior to the hearing.

However, judges said it was in Archie’s best interests to give a judgement today.

Ms Dance said she thought judges had been “insensitive” in deciding not to adjourn.

Evidence ‘cherry picked’

She also wanted appeal judges to adjourn their ruling on the basis that she had “video evidence” that indicated that Archie, who is attached to a ventilator, had twice tried to breathe for himself on Friday and Saturday.

“The hospital seem to cherry pick what they want to put over to the court. Again we’ve heard today that Archie’s losing weight. He put on 0.4 kilos yesterday. How is that losing weight?” said Ms Dance.

The family’s legal team indicated they would make a separate application to Mr Justice Hayden, who made the latest High Court judgement, on that point.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital in Whitechapel in east London, had taken the case to the courts to get a ruling on what was in the best interests of Archie, who the courts have heard had catastrophic brain injuries.

Judges in two separate High Court hearings had previously ruled against his parents, who wanted treatment to continue while his heart was still beating.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson have now refused to overturn the last High Court judgement by Mr Justice Hayden.

It means life support treatment can lawfully end.

Sir Andrew said medical staff had seen “no signs of life” in Archie and his “every bodily function is now maintained by artificial means”.

He said the case had received widespread media coverage – including a photograph of Archie.

“Archie is no longer the boy in the photograph,” said Sir Andrew.

Image source, Hollie Dance

Image caption,

In June, a first High Court judge agreed with doctors that Archie Battersbee was “brain-stem dead”

Mr Justice Hayden delivered his ruling after reviewing evidence in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He described what had happened to Archie as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”, but said medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous” and painted a “bleak” picture.

Archie’s parents, who are separated, had argued he made errors and had been appealing for a third hearing at the High Court with a different judge.

Barrister Edward Devereux QC, leading the legal team for Archie’s parents, had told appeal judges that Mr Justice Hayden had not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s previously expressed wishes and religious beliefs.

He also appealed on the grounds that Archie’s family’s wishes were also not given “real or proper weight”, that Mr Justice Hayden had failed to carry out a “comprehensive evaluation” of the benefits and burdens of continuing life support treatment, and had that he had been wrong to conclude that treatment was burdensome and futile.

Archie’s parents have been supported by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre.

All arguments were dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

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