Archie Battersbee’s parents await Supreme Court decision over treatment

Three justices are considering a bid by Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee to delay the withdrawal of their son’s treatment.

02 August 2022

Archie Battersbee’s parents are awaiting a decision from the UK’s highest court on whether the withdrawal of his life-sustaining treatment should be further delayed.

The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother on April 7 and is currently being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, were granted a Court of Appeal hearing on Monday after the Government asked judges to urgently consider a request from a UN committee to keep treating Archie while it reviews his case.

Archie Battersbee court case
Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance speak to the media outside the Royal London Hospital (Yui Mok/PA)

However, after considering the matter, three judges refused to postpone the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment beyond midday on Tuesday.

They also refused to grant permission to appeal against their ruling at the Supreme Court.

But Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee have now filed an application directly with the Supreme Court and a panel of three justices is considering their request.

Archie’s parents want the court to order that his treatment should continue to allow the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) time to consider their complaint, made last week.

Ms Dance said: “We are having to battle over every decision with the hospital.

“There is nothing dignified in how we are being treated as a family in this situation. We do not understand what the rush is and why all of our wishes are being denied.

“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.

“We pray for an encouraging response from the Supreme Court.”

Archie Battersbee court case
Hollie Dance (Yui Mok/PA)

A spokesman for the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the legal action by Archie’s parents, said the hospital trust has confirmed it will not take any steps to withdraw treatment until the Supreme Court has reached a decision.

The court confirmed it has received the application and it is being considered by a panel of three justices.

A spokeswoman said: “The Supreme Court is aware of the urgency of this matter. A panel of three justices will consider the application for permission to appeal ‘on paper’, in the usual way.”

Archie’s treatment had been due to be withdrawn on Monday, after a High Court judge concluded that would be “lawful” and in his best interests, and the family had exhausted all routes of appeal.

The Court of Appeal refused permission to challenge that ruling last week, but the case was brought back before the court on Monday after the UNCRPD requested that the Government “refrain from withdrawing” Archie’s treatment while it considers the complaint from his parents.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee in hospital (PA)

A letter sent on Sunday on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay asked the court to urgently review the matter in light of the committee’s request.

However, Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said on Monday that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under which the UN committee made its request, is an “unincorporated international treaty”.

Sir Andrew 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.

“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.”

The judge said that was the decision taken in the courts of England and Wales.

Archie was found unconscious at his home by his mother on April 7 and has not regained consciousness since. She believes he was taking part in an online challenge.

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