Well-wishers leave tributes to Archie Battersbee as 12-year-old's life support to be switched off

5 August 2022, 11:35 | Updated: 6 August 2022, 11:04

Archie Battersbee will not be moved to a hospice
Archie Battersbee will not be moved to a hospice. Picture: Various

By Daisy Stephens

Well-wishers have left tributes to Archie Battersbee as his life support was due to be withdrawn on Saturday morning, following his family's failed legal fight to move him to a hospice.

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A last-ditch plea to the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case was rejected late on Friday, following a High Court ruling that he must remain at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

His devastated mother said she had done everything she could before well-wishers arrived outside the hospital to leave a tribute.

That included candles and flowers arranged in a heart shape around a paper that read 'Archie'. His support was due to be taken away at 10am on Saturday.

His parents had fought a long-running legal battle over the withdrawal of treatment and in recent days made bids to the High Court, Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights to have him transferred to a hospice to die.

Hollie Dance, his mother, told Sky News on Friday: "It's been really hard. Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I've been pretty broken."

She added: "I've done everything that I promised my little boy I'd do. And I've done it."

A spokesman with campaign group Christian Concern, which is supporting Archie's family, said: "All legal routes have been exhausted.

"The family are devastated and are spending precious time with Archie."

Ms Justice Theis said earlier the High Court considered the wishes of the family, the reasonings for them, the hospice's facilities, the likely wishes of Archie himself and the risks involved in the transfer.

Court of Appeal judges considering the application concluded: "In all respects, Theis J's judgment deals comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents.

"We have reached the clear conclusion that each of her decisions was right for the reasons she gave.

"It follows that the proposed appeal has no prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal."

Judge Theis explained earlier: "Archie’s best interests must remain at the core of any conclusions reached by this court."

"I am satisfied that when looking at the balancing exercise again his best interests remain as set out on 15 July 2022, that he should remain at the hospital when treatment is withdrawn."

Judge Theis said the Court recognised "the enormity of what lays ahead for Archie’s parents and the family".

"Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case," she said in the ruling.

"I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him as he clearly does to them."

After the ruling, Archie's mother said: "All our wishes as a family have been denied by the authorities. We are broken, but we are keeping going, because we love Archie and refuse to give up on him."

Read more: Archie Battersbee’s mum begs parents to use her son as a warning against 'online challenges'

Read more: Let my Archie die in peace: 'Heartbroken' mum's plea to let 'brain-dead' son spend final moments in hospice

A doctor who has been involved with Archie's care since April said moving him to a hospice carried a number of risks including human error resulting in tubes being dislodged and the mechanical failure of equipment.

Judge Theis said she agreed that the risks for transferring Archie were "major and unpredictable".

Archie has been in a coma since April
Archie has been in a coma since April. Picture: Alamy

Twelve-year-old Archie was found unconscious at his home on April 7.

He suffered catastrophic brain injuries and doctors at The Royal London Hospital believe he is brain stem dead.

But his parents, Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, have been fighting his case for months now, saying he has a heartbeat and wants care to continue.

After a last-ditch attempt to keep him alive failed on Wednesday, Archie's parents appealed to the High Court to allow their son to be allowed to die in a hospice.

Barts NHS Trust previously opposed the decision, saying Archie's condition was too unstable.

The Trust also said a High Court order made on July 15 requires Archie to remain at the Royal London while treatment is withdrawn.

Doctors believe Archie is brain stem dead
Doctors believe Archie is brain stem dead. Picture: Alamy

Archie Battersbee: A timeline

  • April 7: Ms Dance finds Archie unconscious at their Southend home. He is taken to hospital with traumatic head injuries.
  • April 26: Barts NHS Trust say they think it is "highly likely" the youngster is dead and begin High Court proceedings to do a brain stem test and withdraw care. Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee raise concerns.
  • May 16: A nerve stimulation test is carried out. There is no response.
  • June 13: A High Court judge rules Archie is dead and says doctors can stop treating him. A week later Archie's parents are granted permission to appeal.
  • July 15: Another judge agrees with the NHS Trust, saying medical evidence was "compelling and unanimous" and and that there is "no hope at all of recovery". This order includes a stipulation that Archie must remain at The Royal London Hospital while care is withdrawn.
  • July 25: Three judges at the Court of Appeal rule doctors can lawfully stop providing life support treatment. Three days later the family fail to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene.
  • July 29: The family appeal to a UN committee to step in.
  • July 31: The Royal London says Archie's treatment will be withdrawn on August 1 at 2pm - but the Court of Appeal grants a hearing for 11am on the same day after the UN committee asked treatment to be continued while it examined the case.
  • August 1: The Court of Appeal rejects the UN request and says Archie's treatment will end at midday on August 2.
  • August 2: Archie's parents are refused permission to appeal to the ruling at the Supreme Court, and are told care will begin to be withdrawn at 11am on August 3 unless the family submit an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am on that day - which they do.
  • August 3: The European Court refuses the application and Archie's family change tack, saying they will ask the High Court to allow him to be moved to a hospice. They formally lodge High Court proceedings on August 4.
  • August 4: The High Court refuses a bid to have Archie moved to a hospice.
Archie Battersbee's mum warns children of the risks of dangerous online 'challenges'.
Archie Battersbee's mum warns children of the risks of dangerous online 'challenges'. Picture: LBC

On Thursday Ms Dance told LBC she wanted people to use Archie's tragic case as a warning against online challenges.

She believes Archie was taking part in a "choking" or "blackout" challenge, where children are encouraged to cut off oxygen until they pass out.

"[It's] heart-breaking, because I think, if I'd known about these challenges I could have had that conversation with him even the day before," she told LBC.

"And I know that I would have been really firm with that conversation, and we wouldn't be here now."

Read more: Mum of Archie Battersbee urges Health Sec to 'act immediately' to keep her son alive

She went on: "If you have to use Archie as the topic to address it, just please sit down with your children with regards to these online challenges.

"Once you look into it, they're so frightening."

At least seven children in the US and Europe, aged between 8-12, are thought to have died whilst attempting similar challenges.