Archie Battersbee’s parents want Supreme Court to intervene

Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee say they have asked Supreme Court justices to give them more time to carry on a life-support treatment fight.

28 July 2022

The parents of a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage want the Supreme Court to intervene in a life-support treatment battle.

A spokesman for Archie Battersbee’s mother and father, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, says they have asked Supreme Court justices to give them more time to carry on their fight.

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, want the United Nations to consider the case after losing life-support treatment fights in London courts.

They want Supreme Courts justice to bar hospital bosses from stopping life support treatment until they have had time to make an application to the UN.

Archie’s parents say the UN has a protocol which allows “individuals and families” to make complaints about violations of disabled people’s rights.

They say the UN could ask the UK Government to delay the withdrawal of life support to Archie while a complaint is investigated.

Three Court of Appeal judges on Monday upheld a ruling by a High Court judge who had decided that doctors could lawfully stop treating Archie.

Lawyers representing Archie’s parents had asked appeal judges to “stay” the termination of treatment to allow time for consideration of an application to the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) in Strasbourg, France.

Appeal judges imposed a stay on the termination of treatment and said Archie’s parents could have until 2pm on Thursday to make an application to the European court.

The PA news agency understands that nothing in any order made by Court of Appeal judges would prevent Archie’s parents from applying to the UN.

The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London
Hollie Dance speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Archie’s parents are being supported by a campaign group called the Christian Legal Centre.

A spokesman for the centre has indicated that Archie’s parents wanted to approach the UN rather than the European court.

“The families’ legal representatives have urgently asked the Supreme Court to stay the execution of the order which authorises withdrawal of life support from Archie,” the spokesman said on Thursday.

“This is to enable the parents to take their case to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.”

He added: “The UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which gives individuals a right to complain about any violations of the Convention to the UN Committee.

“The committee has previously criticised the UK system of authorising withdrawal of life support from disabled people based on the court determination of their best interests rather than on their own wishes.

“The family’s lawyers will argue that, by making a stay which only allowed an application under the ECHR, the Court of Appeal wrongly subjected the family to pressure not to adopt one international human rights procedure over another.”

Archie Battersbee’s father Paul Battersbee
Archie Battersbee’s father Paul Battersbee (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Judges have heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7. She thinks he might 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.

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.

A 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 a different High Court judge.

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