Archie Battersbee's life support will be withdrawn at 11am on Wednesday after his family lost a Supreme Court bid to stop his life-support treatment being withdrawn.
The youngster has been in a comatose state since suffering catastrophic brain damage after being found unconscious at home on 7 April.
His mother, Hollie Dance, told ITV News she believed her fight for her son's life was "at the final stage" on Tuesday morning, as the family made a bid to the Supreme Court to extend his life support beyond midday so that his case could be considered by the United Nations.
But three judges at the Supreme Court said they would not hear the appeal, as, having reviewed the case papers, they were "satisfied not only that the Court of Appeal has not erred [in refusing an extension] but that it made the correct decision".
On Tuesday evening, Ms Dance said Barts Health NHS Trust would begin to withdraw Archie’s treatment on Wednesday at 11am unless the family has submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am.
“Heartbreakingly, the hospital trust have told us this evening that we cannot move Archie to a hospice," she said in a statement.
“We want to make an urgent application to the European Court of Human Rights, but the trust are saying that that has to be submitted at 9am, which gives us and our lawyers no time to prepare it.
“They also demand to see a copy of it, which they have no right to see. However if this does not happen, they say they will withdraw treatment tomorrow morning at 11am. This is cruel and we are absolutely appalled.”
High Court judges had ruled it was in Archie's best interests for treatment to continue no longer than midday on Tuesday, having on Monday rejected a last-ditch appeal for an extension while a UN committee considered his case.
He continued to be treated by the hospital past that time while judges made their decision.
In a statement issued by the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the legal action by Archie’s parents, Ms Dance said she and Archie's father Paul Battersbee were "extremely disappointed" by the decision.
“No authorities, other than the UN [Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities], have shown any compassion or understanding to us as a family," she said. “We will fight until the end.”
Speaking to reporters after the decision, she said: “I can honestly say that Archie would be very, very disappointed in our justice systems.
“This is somebody’s child … they’re not just taking a child away from me and Paul, they’re destroying the whole family.
“It’s not right, it’s not right, and something needs to be done – reform desperately needs to be taking place in this country.”
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital where Archie is being treated, said: "Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie's family.
"As directed by the courts, we will now work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment. We aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time."
Archie was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, nearly four months ago with a ligature over his head, and his mother believes he was taking part in an online challenge.
A judge has previously said that the medical evidence showed "damage to [Archie's] brain has deprived him of any bodily autonomy", though his family had maintained they had seen signs of progress in his condition and asked for him to be given more time.
What did the Supreme Court say?
Lord Hodge, the court’s deputy president, considered the application for permission to appeal alongside Lords Kitchin and Stephens – the same panel of Supreme Court justices who rejected an appeal bid by Archie’s parents last week.
Announcing the court’s refusal to hear the appeal, the judges said: “As this panel stated in its note of determination last week, the justices have great sympathy with the plight of Archie’s devoted parents who face a circumstance that is every parent’s nightmare – the loss of a much-loved child.”
But they said the "central issue" was not about Archie's recovery but about the "timing and manner of his death".
“As Sir Andrew MacFarlane recorded in his earlier judgment of July 25, there is no prospect of any meaningful recovery. Even if life-sustaining treatment were to be maintained, Archie would die in the course of the next few weeks through organ failure and then heart failure."
'The court has not erred'
The Supreme Court’s announcement continued: “While there was evidence that Archie was a child with religious beliefs, was very close to his mother and would not have wished to leave her alone, those are only some of the factors which the courts have to consider in their evaluation of where Archie’s best interests lie.
“It was against that background that Mr Justice Hayden [at the High Court on 15 July] held that it would not be lawful to continue life-sustaining treatment.
“The Court of Appeal upheld that judgment and this court refused permission further to appeal.
“Now the application is for a stay of the order authorising the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment to give time for the (UN) committee to consider Archie’s case, as the committee has requested.
“The panel is satisfied not only that the Court of Appeal has not erred in the sense mentioned above but that it made the correct decision.”
Archie Battersbee timeline
Archie Battersbee - The story of a four-month court battle
Archie Battersbee - The story of a four-month court battle
7 April - Hollie Dance finds Archie unconscious in their home in Southend, Essex, with a ligature over his head. She believes he was taking part in an online challenge.
8 April - Archie is moved to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
26 April - Barts Health Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, starts High Court proceedings to run brain stem tests. Hollie Dance urges judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to not approve the brain stem tests to "give him [Archie] time to fight back".
13 May - Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules brain stem tests should be carried out
16 May -Two specialists at Royal London Hospital try to conduct brain stem tests but are unable to do so as Archie fails to respond to peripheral nerve stimulation test.
25 May - A hearing is held to decide if further MRI scans should be conducted. Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, Archie's father, do not consent as they fear moving Archie will cause him harm.
27 May - Court approves that further MRI scans should be conducted.
31 May - MRI scans conducted.
6-8 June - Court hearing held to decide if Archie's life support treatment should continue. Specialists say it is highly likely that Archie is "brain stem dead", and that tests conducted showed no discernible brain activity, revealing "significant areas of tissue necrosis". A doctor for the family tells the court he knows of cases where people diagnosed as being dead by "neurological criteria" have been proven to be alive.
13 June 2022 - Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that Archie is dead based on MRI scan results. "I find that Archie died at noon on Monday 31 May 2022, which was shortly after the MRI scans taken that day," she rules. Archie's family immediately indicate they will apply for permission to appeal the decision.
20 June - The family mount an appeal to the same judge, arguing that evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that the youngster was dead. Mrs Justice Arbuthnot agrees that the family have a "compelling" case and the matter is sent to the Court of Appeal.
29 June - Three Court of Appeal judges uphold the family's appeal, and order a fresh hearing to take place at the High Court in front of a different judge.
11 July - The new hearing begins in the High Court before Mr Justice Hayden. Doctors treating Archie at Royal London Hospital argue that continuing the treatment will only "delay the inevitable".
15 July - Mr Justice Hayden concludes that doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment, calling the medical evidence "compelling and unanimous". He adds: "There are unfortunately no treatments possible to reverse the damage that has been caused to Archie's brain." Once again, Archie's family say they will appeal the decision.
25 July - Three Court of Appeal judges hear the appeal, but back Mr Justice Hayden's ruling that treatment can end as it is in Archie's best interests. A stay is put in place for Archie's treatment to continue until 2pm on 27 July.
27 July - As the stay expires, Archie's family are given a further 24 hours to appeal to European Court of Human Rights. However, they say that court has a "track record" of rejecting cases such as Archie's and instead want to go to the United Nations. They apply to the Supreme Court to be allowed to appeal to the UN.
28 July - Supreme Court judges refuse to intervene, and support the Court of Appeal ruling that Royal London Hospital can withdraw life support treatment lawfully.
29 July - Archie's family make an application to the UN, under a protocol which allows individuals and families to make complaints about violation of disabled people's rights).
30 July - The UN issues the UK government's legal department with a request so that it has time to consider Archie's case.
31 July - The UK government asks the High Court to delay the withdrawal of treatment so that the UN has time to consider the case.
1 August - A last-minute hearing organised at the request of the health secretary. Lawyers representing Archie's parents say unless the withdrawal of life support treatment is postponed, the court would be "complicit" in "flagrant breach of international law". But Court of Appeal judges refuses to postpone the withdrawal of life-support, extending it only until midday on Tuesday, 2 August. The most senior family judge in the country says the UN convention is an "unconventional international treaty and is not part of UK law", and that it continues to be in Archie's best interests to stop treatment.
2 August - Archie’s parents are refused permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court. Ms Dance says Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on August 3 at 11am unless the family have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am that day. The trust will not begin removing life-support until all legal issues have been resolved.
3 August - The European Court of Human Rights refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family say they intend to ask the High Court to allow the schoolboy to be moved to a hospice.
4 August - Nearly four months after Archie suffered traumatic head injuries, his parents formally lodge High Court proceedings over the move to hospice care – something the hospital opposes. Archie’s care continues. A hearing takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, lasting late into the evening.
5 August - Mrs Justice Theis rules it is not in Archie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.
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