Archie Battersbee's mum wants TikTok role in son's death to be investigated by coroner

Hollie Dance and Archie Battersbee.
Credit: Hollie Dance.
Archie Battersbee was at the centre of a court battle for months over his life-support treatment. Credit: Hollie Dance

The mother of Archie Battersbee has urged a coroner to consider what role the social media network TikTok may have played in the youngster's death.

Archie, 12, died in August when his life-support was switched off, after a four-month legal battle over his treatment.

He had been on mechanical ventilation since he was found unconscious at home with a ligature over his head in April. He never regained consciousness.

Despite a protracted legal battle and multiple appeals to different courts, judges concluded that it was in Archie's best interests for treatment not to continue because of the extent of the brain damage he had suffered.

His mother Hollie Dance believes that Archie may have been taking part in an online challenge at the time.

An inquest into the Southend youngster's death is due to be held in February, and Ms Dance wants TikTok to be made an interested party in the inquest, which would mean the tech company could be called to give evidence.

In an interview with ITV News after her son's death, Ms Dance said she wanted part of his legacy to be encouraging parents to have discussions with their children about social media, and the dangers of viral challenges, in the hope of avoiding further tragedies.

Her lawyers, the firm Simpson Millar, confirmed that it wanted Archie's electronic devices to be handed over by police so they could be examined.

In the submissions, first reported by the Guardian, lawyers said:

"If HD [Hollie Dance’s] fears are evidenced and [Archie] was mortally injured as a result of the accessibility on platforms such as TikTok of such challenges, or messages from influencers about the same, including ‘dares’ – which appears to HD very likely to be the case – then it is submitted that such matters properly fall to be investigated as part of the wider public interest and as a means of perhaps avoiding future deaths."

Archie died in hospital on 6 August. Credit: Family photo

They added that "calling for evidence, and reviewing it in the public domain, would not only permit all the circumstances touching on the death of [Archie] properly to be investigated" but would also be proportionate, given the risks of the "same tragic circumstances" happening again to children of a similar age.

Doctors believed that Archie was brain-stem dead and had no realistic prospect of recovery, after he suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

The health trust of the Royal London Hospital, where Archie was being treated, asked the High Court to rule on his future, and a judge decided that withdrawing his life support was in his best interests.

Following repeated appeals to different courts over more than a fortnight, the decision was upheld.

TikTok has declined to comment on the submission to the coroner.

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