Parents of brain-damaged boy in Court of Appeal fight

Three appeal judges are overseeing the latest stage of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee’s case at a hearing in London

21 July 2022

The parents of a 12-year-old boy left in a “comatose state” after suffering “catastrophic” brain damage in an accident at home three months ago are embroiled in a Court of Appeal fight.

Three Court of Appeal judges on Thursday began overseeing the latest stage of Archie Battersbee’s case 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 heard how medical evidence showed that Archie was in a “comatose state”.

They are due to continue considering arguments on Friday.

Archie’s 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.

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

He described what happened to Archie as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”.

But he said medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous” and painted a “bleak” picture.

Archie Battersbee court case
Hollie Dance (Brian Farmer/PA)

Edward Devereux QC, who is leading Archie’s parents’ legal team, argued at Thursday’s 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.

He told appeal judges: “The overall case of the parents is that Mr Justice Hayden’s decision was driven almost wholly by what is in Archie’s medical best interests and not careful, clear, understandable and comprehensive evaluation of Archie’s best interests in the wider sense.”

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 are in Archie’s best interests.

Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case.

She concluded, after an earlier hearing, that Archie is dead.

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

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