Archie Battersbee: Judge 'did not give weight to 12-year-old's wishes', lawyer tells Court of Appeal

Archie Battersbee.
Credit: Family photo
Archie Battersbee has been at the centre of a court battle for months over his life-support treatment. Credit: PA Media

A judge failed to carry out a "comprehensive evaluation" of continuing 12-year-old Archie Battersbee's life-support treatment, Court of Appeal judges have been told as his family began their latest bid to keep him alive.

Archie's parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, have mounted an appeal bid after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could lawfully stop treatment.

Archie suffered “catastrophic” brain damage in an accident at home three months ago.

Edward Devereux QC argued at Thursday’s appeal hearing that Mr Justice Hayden had not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s previously expressed wishes and religious beliefs, nor given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s family’s wishes.

He also said the judge had failed to carry out a “comprehensive evaluation” of the benefits and burdens of continuing life-support treatment; and had been wrong to conclude that treatment was burdensome and futile.

He told appeal judges: “The overall case of the parents is that Mr Justice Hayden’s decision was driven almost wholly by what is in Archie’s medical best interests and not careful, clear, understandable and comprehensive evaluation of Archie’s best interests in the wider sense.”

Sir Andrew McFarlane – the president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson will consider the arguments at the hearing.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday.

Mr Justice Hayden delivered a ruling on Friday after reviewing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

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

Mr Justice Hayden heard how Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on 7 April. She thinks he may have been taking part in an online challenge.

The youngster has not regained consciousness.

Archie Battersbee, 12, is at the centre of a legal dispute Credit: Family handout/PA

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is “brain-stem dead” and say continued life support treatment is not in his best interests.

Archie’s parents disagree and say his heart is beating. They are being supported by a campaign group called the Christian Legal Centre.

Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions about what medical moves are in Archie’s best interests.

Archie Battersbee’s mother Hollie Dance and family friend Ella Carter, outside the High Court during an earlier hearing Credit: right

Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case.

She concluded, after an earlier hearing, that Archie was dead.

But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by Archie’s parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed.

Mr Justice Hayden said evidence shows Archie suffered a “significant injury” to “multiple areas” of his brain and had not “regained awareness at any time”.

He said the reality of Archie’s case was “terrible”.

Archie with his brother Tom in hospital in London. Credit: Hollie Dance

“There is unfortunately no treatment possible to reverse the damage that has been caused to Archie’s brain,” he said. “There can be no hope at all of recovery.”

The judge said he reached his conclusion with “profound regret”.

Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case.

She concluded, after an earlier hearing, that Archie was dead.

But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by Archie’s parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This family have fought courageously to get to this point in taking a stand for Archie’s life.

“We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they appeal this ruling.”


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