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Archie Battersbee’s parents wait for appeal judges’ ruling

Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee appealed after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could lawfully stop treating their 12-year-old son.

25 July 2022

The parents of a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering “catastrophic” brain damage three months ago are waiting for a ruling on the latest round of a life-support treatment fight.

Three Court of Appeal judges on Friday finished hearing arguments about what moves are in Archie Battersbee’s best interests at a hearing in London.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson are due to deliver a ruling on Monday.

Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, have mounted an appeal bid after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could lawfully stop treatment.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee has been unconscious since being found with a ligature over his head in April (Battersbee family/PA)

Mr Justice Hayden delivered a ruling recently after reviewing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He described what had happened to Archie as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”, but said medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous” and painted a “bleak” picture.

Archie’s parents, who are separated, said he made errors and want appeal judges to remit the case to another High Court judge for a another hearing.

Judges have heard how medical evidence shows that Archie is in a “comatose state”.

Archie Battersbee Court Case
Sir Andrew McFarlane (Courts and Tribunals Judiciary/PA)

Barrister Edward Devereux QC,  who is leading the legal team for Archie’s parents, argued at the appeal hearing that Mr Justice Hayden had not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s previously expressed wishes and religious beliefs; not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s family’s wishes; failed to carry out a “comprehensive evaluation” of the benefits and burdens of continuing life-support treatment; and had been wrong to conclude that treatment was burdensome and futile.

Judges have heard how Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.

She thinks he may have been taking part in an online challenge.

The youngster has not regained consciousness.

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. His parents disagree.

Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions on what medical moves were in Archie’s best interests.

Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case and concluded that Archie was dead.

But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by his parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed by Mr Justice Hayden.

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