Archie Battersbee: Supreme Court life-support appeal is 'final stage', says mum Hollie Dance

Archie Battersbee
Credit: Family photo
Archie Battersbee's case has been fought through the courts for months. Credit: Family photo

The mother of Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old in a comatose state after suffering catastrophic brain damage, says the family's fight to keep him alive is "at the final stage".

Judges have ruled that it is in the youngster's best interests for treatment to continue no longer than midday on Tuesday, having rejected a last-ditch appeal from his family based on Monday.

Archie was found unconscious at home on 7 April with a ligature over his head, and his mother believes he was taking part in an online challenge.

Shortly after midday on Tuesday, the family confirmed that they had filed an "urgent appeal" with the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country. Archie's care will continue until the appeal is concluded.

Speaking to GMB earlier, Hollie Dance said asking the court to intervene was the only option left to the family.

"We’re at the final stage. That’s it… He hasn’t been given long enough," she said.

"I know Archie’s still with us. Archie’s showing very different signs to what the clinicians are actually putting over to the courts. He’s very much there, he’s progressing in so many ways."

Ms Dance, 46, said her son had been regulating his own temperature and blood pressure, and had a stable heartbeat, and repeated her call for him to be given more time.

A judge has previously said that the medical evidence showed "damage to [Archie's] brain has deprived him of any bodily autonomy".

Ms Dance said: “I find it very hard not to exhaust every option. If there were no progressional signs and he was going backwards or there was no improvement whatsoever, I would have no choice to think different but he’s not and while he is progressing, it’s very hard to stop fighting for his life.”

Archie Battersbee has not regained consciousness since 7 April. Credit: Family photo

Ms Dance, from Southend, said: "I’ve been in fight and flight [mode] since it happened, I haven’t had a chance to process what happened. There’s been no chance to process everything… I promised Archie I’d [fight] that to the end and that’s what I’m doing.

“There’s too much evidence to suggest Archie is progressing.

"Archie’s held my hand. He’s held other people’s hands. He’s squeezed my fingers.

"He was squeezing my fingers so tight my fingers were red. He’s opened his eyes. All he needs is time. That’s all we’ve asked for.”

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital where Archie is being treated, said: “Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences remain with Archie’s family at this difficult time.

“We are following the direction of the courts, so no changes will be made to Archie’s care whilst the family appeal to the Supreme Court, though we will prepare to withdraw treatment after mid-day [Tuesday] unless directed otherwise.”

Over the weekend, a UN committee intervened to ask the UK government to postpone the withdrawal of life support while it considered Archie's case.

At a last-minute hearing organised at the request of the health secretary, lawyers representing Archie's parents told judges that, unless the withdrawal of his life-sustaining treatment was postponed, the court would be “complicit” in a “flagrant breach of international law”.

But the most senior judge in the High Court's Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane said the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the UN committee based its request on, was an “unincorporated international treaty”.

He said: “It is not part of the law of the United Kingdom … and it is not appropriate for this court to apply an unincorporated international treaty into its decision-making process.”

He added: “Every day that [Archie] continues to be given life-sustaining treatment is contrary to his best interests and, so, a stay, even for a short time, is against his best interests.”

Archie Battersbee has been unconscious since being found with a ligature over his head in April. Credit: PA

What happened to Archie Battersbee?

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

His mother found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on 7 April, and he has not regained consciousness. She thinks he may have been taking part in an online challenge.

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, and are being supported by the campaign group 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.

A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, considered the case and 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.

The case was referred back the High Court, where Mr Justice Hayden ruled that life support could be lawfully withdrawn, saying evidence showed Archie suffered a “significant injury” to “multiple areas” of his brain and had not “regained awareness at any time”.

After a second appeal from the family, Court of Appeal judges backed Mr Justice Hayden's assessment.

That led Archie's family to seek other avenues to overturn the decision, leading them raise the issue with the United Nations.

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