Doctors say boy in life-support fight is ‘unresponsive’ and will not recover

A High Court judge has been asked to review evidence and decide what moves are in 12-year-old Archie Battersbee’s best interests.

11 July 2022

A 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute after suffering brain damage three months ago is “unresponsive” and will not recover, a barrister representing hospital bosses has told a High Court judge.

Martin Westgate QC on Monday told Mr Justice Hayden that Archie Battersbee had suffered a “devastating” brain injury during at incident at home in April and specialists did not think it was in his best interests for treatment to continue.

The judge is overseeing the latest in a series of hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He is reviewing evidence after another High Court judge had earlier ruled that Archie was dead.

Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, from Southend, Essex, are hoping he will rule that doctors should keep providing treatment.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee’s mother Hollie Dance (right) and family friend Ella Carter, outside the High Court in London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, have told judges that they think Archie is “brain-stem dead”.

They say treatment should end and say Archie should be disconnected from a ventilator.

Archie’s parents hope he will recover.

Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, have asked Mr Justice Hayden to decide what moves are in Archie’s best interests.

“He is not responsive and has no prospect of recovery,” Mr Westgate, who is leading the trust’s legal team, told Mr Justice Hayden on Monday.

“The trust have come to the conclusion that continuing treatment is no longer in his best interests.”

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee, 12, is at the centre of a life-treatment courts dispute (Family handout/PA)

Trust bosses had originally asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to decide what moves were in Archie’s best interests.

She had concluded that Archie was dead and ruled that doctors could lawfully stop providing treatment.

Archie’s parents had challenged Mrs Justice Arbuthnot’s decisions in the Court of Appeal.

Three appeal judges upheld their challenge and ruled that evidence relating to what was in Archie’s best interests should be reconsidered by a different High Court judge.

A barrister representing Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee had argued, in the appeal court, that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had made errors.

Edward Devereux QC argued that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had not carried out a “comprehensive” analysis of evidence relating to whether life-support treatment should continue.

Mr Devereux also argued that evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that Archie was dead.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie’s father Paul Battersbee (James Manning/PA)

Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April, judges have heard.

Ms Dance said she found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

He has not regained consciousness.

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