Archie Battersbee’s mother vows to keep fighting despite Court of Appeal ruling

·4-min read

The mother of a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering “catastrophic” brain damage three months ago has said she will keep fighting even though Court of Appeal judges have ruled that life-support treatment can stop.

Three appeal judges on Monday upheld a ruling by a High Court judge who had decided that doctors could lawfully stop treating Archie Battersbee.

Hollie Dance said afterwards that she would continue to fight and was considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights, which is based in  Strasbourg, France.

Miss Dance and Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, had mounted an appeal bid and argued that Mr Justice Hayden had made errors following a High Court hearing.

The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London
The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But appeal judges Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division of the High Court and most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson refused to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s decision.

Miss Dance had asked appeal judges to adjourn their ruling.

She said she had seen indications that Archie, who is attached to a ventilator, had twice tried to breathe for himself in the last few days.

Judges were also told that Mr Battersbee had been taken ill outside court before the start of the hearing.

Barrister Edward Devereux QC, who led Archie’s parents’ legal team, told judges that Mr Battersbee, who is in his 50s, had been taken to hospital and was feared to have suffered a heart attack or stroke.

But appeal judges refused to adjourn their ruling.

Archie Battersbee has been unconscious since being found with a ligature over his head in April.

“We will continue this fight,” said Miss Dance outside court.

Archie Battersbee’s father Paul Battersbee
Archie Battersbee’s father Paul Battersbee (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“We are discussing options with our lawyers.

“One possibility is the European Court of Human Rights.”

She said she thought appeal judges should have adjourned the ruling once they knew that Mr Battersbee was ill, and added: “I do think it was insensitive.”

Miss Dance said Mr Battersbee was having checks and would stay in hospital overnight.

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.

They complained that Mr Justice Hayden had based his decision on Archie’s “medical best interests”, not his “best interests in the wider sense” and the judge had not carried out a “careful” and “comprehensive” evaluation of the benefits and burdens of continued “life-sustaining treatment”.

The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London
Hollie Dance outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But Sir Andrew said Archie’s parents’ challenge had no “reasonable prospect” of success.

“It is clear to me that (Mr Justice Hayden) discharged the important responsibility laid upon him carefully,” he said.

“I do not accept there is any prospect of the decision being shown to be wrong or unjust.”

Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Jackson said they agreed.

Judges heard that Miss Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.

She thinks he might 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.

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.

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