Archie Battersbee’s mum brands judges 'insensitive' after dad 'suffers heart attack'

25 July 2022, 12:34 | Updated: 25 July 2022, 17:14

Doctors can lawfully stop providing life support treatment to brain damaged 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, appeal court judges rules
Doctors can lawfully stop providing life support treatment to brain damaged 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, appeal court judges rules. Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

Archie Battersbee's mother has branded judges "insensitive" for refusing to delay a ruling that doctors can lawfully stop providing life support to her brain damaged 12-year-old when his father was rushed to hospital after suffering a "stroke or a heart attack".

Three Court of Appeal judges today ruled that switching of his life-support was in the best interests of Archie who has been in a comatose state since suffering "catastrophic" brain damage three months ago.

Judges had been asked to delay the ruling after Archie's father Paul Battersbee was taken to hospital after suffering a "stroke or a heart attack", but refused.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson had considered arguments at a hearing at the Court of Appeal in London last week.

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, of Southend, mounted an appeal bid after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could lawfully stop treatment.

A lawyer representing Archie’s parents said his mum Ms Dance thought her son had been trying to breathe independently.

Judges 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.

Appeal judges said they would "stay" the ending of Archie Battersbee's treatment for 48 hours to allow his parents time to approach the European court.

Barrister Edward Devereux QC, indicated that Archie's parents wanted to ask the European Court of Human Rights to consider the case.

Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that switching of his life-support was in the best interests of Archie who has ben been in a comatose state since suffering "catastrophic" brain damage three months ago
Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that switching of his life-support was in the best interests of Archie who has ben been in a comatose state since suffering "catastrophic" brain damage three months ago. Picture: Alamy
Archie's father Paul Battersbee was taken to hospital after reportedly suffering a heart attack
Archie's father Paul Battersbee was taken to hospital after reportedly suffering a heart attack. Picture: Alamy

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Archie's mother Hollie Dance said they are considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Speaking outside court, she said: "We've been silenced I think for long enough on Archie's progression, so we will continue this fight and this time I will make sure that Archie's progression in court is actually stated.

"As I say I think we've been silenced for too long now. I've got video evidence of Archie trying to breathe on Friday and Saturday.

"The hospital seem to cherry pick what they want to put over to the court. Again we've heard today that Archie's losing weight. He put on 0.4 kilos yesterday. How is that losing weight?"

She insisted that Archie is absorbing his feeds.

Asked how she is going to continue the fight, she said: "We're going to discuss that with the legal team later but there is another step, another channel, that we're going to go down."

Asked if this would be the European Court of Human Rights, she said: "Potentially."

Archie's parents are being support by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre.

Andrea Williams, its chief executive, said outside court: "I am very disappointed that they have not adjourned this decision given that Mr Battersbee has been taken to hospital.

"I've been in touch with Archie's mother - she is disgusted."

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 the judge made errors and wanted the appeal court to remit the case to another High Court judge for another hearing.

Judges heard how medical evidence shows Archie is in a "comatose state".

Barrister Edward Devereux QC, who is leading the legal team for Archie's parents, had 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.

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

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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.

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.

Ms Dance said the stress that the whole case has caused for her family is "not right", adding: "I think the legal system does need to be changed."

She said it all feels "rushed", telling reporters: "Like I've said, what's the rush? This whole thing seems ever so rushed. It's been rushed from day one hasn't it? Sorry, day two at the hospital. They've insisted on Archie's death from day two."

Ms Dance added: "Like the hospital were saying, he's going to die in three weeks anyway, what is the rush?"

She said other countries seem to give people six months with brain injuries before removal of ventilator.

"What is the harm in asking for giving him a bit more time?"

Looking ahead to next steps in her legal fight, she said: "I'm prepared to take whatever option we can take. We've come this far.

"We'll take it obviously to the next level. We've come this far. There's no point in going backwards now."

She added: "This country are too quick to euthanise these children. You've got Charlie Gard, you've got Alfie Evans, now you've got Archie. It's not fair."

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