Christian charity says death of Southend's Archie Battersbee should be 'determined by God'

Archie Battersbee has been in an induced coma since April. Credit: Family photo

The time and manner of the death of a 12-year-old boy on life support "should be determined by God" and not a judge, the Christian charity representing his family has said.

Following a hearing at the High Court, the Christian Legal Centre said Archie Battersbee's family had a right to "pray for a miracle" and should legally be entitled to that time.

The youngster has been on life support since being found unconscious at his home in Southend in April.

Last week a High Court judged ruled he was dead and that treatment could lawfully stop - but his parents have been given permission to appeal against that decision.

The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the family, argued Archie's religious beliefs had not been taken into account in the ruling by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the centre, said the case had raised significant moral, legal and medical questions about when a person was dead.

"Archie's parents believe that the time and manner of his death should be determined by God and claim a right to pray for a miracle until and unless that happens," she said. "That believe must be respected.

"The ideology of 'dignity in death', meaning a planned time of death as fixed and carried out by the doctors, should not be brutally imposed families who do not believe in it."

Archie Battersbee, 12, suffered a ‘catastrophic’ brain injury Credit: Hollie Dance/PA

Monday's court hearing saw Edward Devereux QC, representing Archie's parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, argue that a higher burden of proof should have been used by the High Court in determining whether the child was dead.

He argued that a decision of such “gravity” should have been made on a “beyond reasonable doubt” basis, rather than on a balance of probabilities.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot decided that appeal judges should consider that standard of proof issue.

She said Court of Appeal judges had never considered that standard of proof issue in relation to “declaration of death” cases.

The judge said that issue provided a compelling reason why appeal judges should consider the case.

But she dismissed eight other points raised by the family's lawyer - including the claim that the court erred by failing to accommodate the religious views of Archie and his family.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, told Mrs Justice Arbuthnot they think the youngster is “brain-stem dead”.

They say treatment should end and think Archie should be disconnected from a ventilator.

Archie’s parents say his heart is still beating and want treatment to continue.

Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to decide what moves were in Archie’s best interests.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot heard that Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April.

Ms Dance said she found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head on 7 April and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge. He has not regained consciousness since.

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