Archie Battersbee's life support to be withdrawn on Saturday as legal fight comes to an end
Archie Battersbee's life support is set to be withdrawn on Saturday after his family lost an appeal of a High Court ruling that denied his transfer to a hospice for the final days of his life.
The 12-year-old's family are "devastated" and are "spending precious time with Archie", report the Press Association.
Archie's parents turned to the Court of Appeal after a High Court judge ruled the Southend boy should remain in hospital as his life support is withdrawn.
His family lost the challenge and then applied to the European Court of Human Rights to further appeal the ruling, but it said it would not intervene.
The campaign group Christian Concern said the family have been told his life-sustaining treatment will be withdrawn from 10am on Saturday 6 August.
A spokesperson for the group told PA: "All legal routes have been exhausted.
"The family are devastated and are spending precious time with Archie."
His parents had hoped to win the right to transfer him to a hospice so that he could die "with dignity", and mounted an appeal with the High Court on Thursday morning.
But a judge on Friday morning ruled that the youngster could not be moved and an appeal of this decision was lost on Friday evening.
Hollie Dance, the mother of Archie Battersbee, said the family was “broken but we are keeping going, because we love Archie and refuse to give up on him” after hearing the court's decision.
Archie has been in a comatose state with catastrophic brain damage since being found unconscious at home in Southend on 7 April.
He is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
Ruling that the 12-year-old should remain in hospital while his life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn, Mrs Justice Theis said: “Archie’s best interests must remain at the core of any conclusions reached by this court.
“When considering the wishes of the family, why those wishes are held, the facilities at the hospice, what Archie is likely to have wanted, … the risks involved in a transfer … and the increasing fragility of his medical condition, I am satisfied that when looking at the balancing exercise again his best interests remain as set out (in the ruling of 15 July), that he should remain at the hospital when treatment is withdrawn."
She said the arrangements at the hospital would "ensure that Archie’s best interest will remain the focus of the final arrangements to enable him peacefully and privately to die in the embrace of the family he loved."
The judge had heard evidence from Ella Carter, the fiancee of Archie’s older brother, who said the family understood the risks involved – including that he may die with only one parent present due to the limited space in the ambulance.
Ms Carter said the family considered that Archie would not die with peace and dignity if his treatment was withdrawn at the hospital due to the breakdown in trust and other circumstances at the hospital.
She also said the hospice – which indicated it could take Archie with 24 hours’ notice – would be more peaceful, had on-site counsellors, could offer to accommodate a larger number of family members and would allow them to stay with him for longer than at the hospital.
'Unconditional love and dedication'
Mrs Justice Theis concluded her judgment by saying: “I return to where I started, recognising the enormity of what lays ahead for Archie’s parents and the family.
“Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case.
“I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him as he clearly does to them.”
The trust had previously said Archie’s condition is too unstable for a transfer and that moving him by ambulance to a different setting “would most likely hasten the premature deterioration the family wish to avoid, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on the journey”.
The family's legal battle came to an end on Wednesday evening when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene to postpone the withdrawal of Archie's life support.
A High Court judge has ruled that it is in his best interests for treatment to end, and appeals to the Court of Appeal, the United Nations, the Supreme Court and the ECHR have failed to overturn the decision.
Following the European court defeat, Hollie Dance, Archie's mum, conceded it was "the end".
Life-support treatment was due to end at 11am on Thursday, though the appeal to move him meant that it was put on hold until the court had ruled.
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.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...