Archie Battersbee’s parents prepare to take legal fight to Court of Appeal
The parents of a 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute are preparing for a Court of Appeal hearing after a High Court judge concluded that the youngster was dead.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot recently ruled that doctors could lawfully stop providing treatment to Archie Battersbee, after considering evidence at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
Lawyers involved say they expect Court of Appeal judges to consider the case, at a hearing in London, next week.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, have told Mrs Justice Arbuthnot that they think the youngster is “brain-stem dead”.
They say treatment should end and think Archie should be disconnected from a ventilator.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, say his heart is still beating and want treatment to continue.
Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to decide what moves were in Archie’s best interests
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot concluded that Archie was dead, and said treatment should end, but gave Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee permission to mount an appeal.
She said there was a “compelling reason” why appeal judges should consider the case.
A barrister leading Archie’s parents’ legal team argued that evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that the youngster was dead.
Edward Devereux QC said the decision had been made on a balance of probabilities.
He argued a decision of such “gravity” should have been made on a “beyond reasonable doubt” basis.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot decided that appeal judges should consider that standard of proof issue.
She said Court of Appeal judges had never considered that standard of proof issue in relation to “declaration of death” cases.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot heard that Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April.
Ms Dance said she found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
He has not regained consciousness.