Archie Battersbee’s parents win court of appeal fight in life-support case

The parents of Archie Battersbee have won an appeal against ending the 12-year-old’s life support treatment.

A high court judge had ruled that Archie, who sustained brain damage about three months ago, was ”brain-stem dead” after a hospital trust asked it to decide what was in his best interests.

However, the court of appeal decided on Wednesday that the evidence should be reconsidered by a different judge in the family division of the high court in London.

Speaking after the appeal hearing, Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, said: “We’re delighted. We wanted another hearing and we’ve got everything we wanted.”

His father, Paul Battersbee, added: “Delighted. It couldn’t really have gone any better today.”

Archie has been treated by medics at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, where doctors believe he is “very likely” to be “brain-stem dead”.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had initially ruled that doctors could lawfully stop providing treatment but now another judge, Mr Justice Hayden, will oversee another hearing on 11 July.

Archie Battersbee.
Archie Battersbee. Photograph: Hollie Dance/PA

Lawyers representing Dance and Battersbee argued that Arbuthnot had made errors. Edward Devereux QC, who led Archie’s parents’ legal team, said she had not carried out a comprehensive analysis of evidence relating to whether life-support treatment should continue.

He suggested the analysis had not been of a “gold standard” and told appeal judges: “In matters of life and death the gold standard should be reached.”

The appeal judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, the master of the rolls; Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division of the high court and most senior family court judge in England and Wales; and Lady Justice King allowed the parents’ appeal.

They made no criticism of Arbuthnot and indicated they would give reasons for their decision at a later date.

A specialist, who cannot be named, had previously said tests had shown no “discernible” brain activity but revealed “significant areas of tissue necrosis”. She added: “We believe that it is very likely that he is brain-stem dead.”

However, lawyers representing the family have argued that Archie’s heart is still beating and raised questions about whether “the correct procedure” had been followed and if the family’s views had been given full consideration.

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Royal London hospital’s governing trust, Barts health NHS trust, had asked Arbuthnot through its lawyers to decide what actions should be taken in Archie’s best interests.

His mother said she found him unconscious at home with a ligature over his head on 7 April and believed he may have been taking part in some sort of internet challenge.

He has not regained consciousness since being admitted to hospital.


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