Archie Battersbee: Supreme Court will not intervene in life-support case

·3-min read
Archie Battersbee (Handout/PA) (PA Media)
Archie Battersbee (Handout/PA) (PA Media)

The parents of a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage have failed to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene in a life-support treatment battle.

Archie Battersbee’s mother and father, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, had asked Supreme Court justices to give them more time to carry on their fight.

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee want the United Nations to consider the case after losing life-support treatment fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal in London.

They wanted Supreme Court justices to bar hospital bosses from stopping life-support treatment until they have had time to make an application to the UN, and made a written application.

But three justices on Thursday refused their application.

“The parents of Archie Battersbee filed their application to appeal to the Supreme Court earlier today,” said a Supreme Court spokeswoman in a statement.

“They were seeking a stay of the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow withdrawal of life–support treatment from their child.

“Aware of the urgency of this matter, the court convened a panel of three Justices who considered submissions from the parties ‘on paper’, in the usual way.

“Having considered the careful judgment of the Court of Appeal…  the panel has refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Archie’s parents say the UN has a protocol which allows “individuals and families” to make complaints about violations of disabled people’s rights.

They say the UN could ask the UK Government to delay the withdrawal of life support to Archie while a complaint is investigated.

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

Lawyers representing Archie’s parents had asked appeal judges to “stay” the termination of treatment to allow time for consideration of an application to the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) in Strasbourg, France.

Appeal judges imposed a stay on the termination of treatment and said Archie’s parents could have until 2pm on Thursday to make an application to the European court.

The PA news agency understands that nothing in any order made by Court of Appeal judges would prevent Archie’s parents from applying to the UN.

Archie’s parents are being supported by a campaign group called the Christian Legal Centre.

A spokesman for the centre has indicated that Archie’s parents wanted to approach the UN rather than the European court.

 (PA)
(PA)

“The UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which gives individuals a right to complain about any violations of the Convention to the UN Committee,” he said.

“The committee has previously criticised the UK system of authorising withdrawal of life support from disabled people based on the court determination of their best interests rather than on their own wishes.”

Lawyers representing Archie’s parents argued, in their Supreme Court application, that by making a stay which only allowed an application under the ECHR, the Court of Appeal wrongly subjected them to “pressure not to adopt one international human rights procedure over another”.

Judges have heard that Ms 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.

A 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 a different High Court judge.

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