'We will fight to the end': Archie Battersbee's parents to appeal decision to end life-support treatment

·4-min read

The parents of Archie Battersbee say they will appeal a decision not to delay the withdrawal of life-preserving treatment for their brain-damaged child.

The Court of Appeal has refused to postpone the ending of life support for the 12-year-old beyond midday on Tuesday, as it rejected a last-ditch bid by a United Nations committee.

Archie - who has been on life support since April after being found unconscious at home by his mother in Southend, Essex - was set to have treatment withdrawn at 2pm on Monday.

But following interventions from the UN and the government, the Court of Appeal began a hearing at 11am.

The judges have refused to grant permission to appeal against their ruling at the Supreme Court.

However, speaking outside the London hospital where Archie is being treated, his mother Hollie Dance said the family will be making an application to the UK's highest court.

Standing alongside the child's father Paul Battersbee after the Court of Appeal ruling, she said: "We made a promise to Archie, we will fight to the end. And Archie's still fighting.

"If tomorrow's the last day then so be it, but we will be applying to the Supreme Court."

Ms Dance said that she was feeling "totally deflated", telling Sky News that she was "really quite upset at the justice system".

"I don't think any parent should have to go through this, reform has to be made and needs to be seriously looked at. The way parents have had their decisions and their rights taken away and it all lays in the hands of the justice system, it's not right."

She said she had found the months of hearings in the court battle against Barts Health NHS Trust "absolutely exhausting".

Family says Archie 'let down' by NHS

Ms Dance also said her son has been "let down" by Britain's healthcare system.

"In this country there's no options: it's either Archie's conscious or he dies, that's it. In other countries there are so many options. You've got... stem cell treatment, you know, there are so many options available.

"Over in the UK it's... execution of your child and that's it. It's disgusting, it's a let-down."

Read more: Boy's mother appeals for help from health secretary

Doctors at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, say Archie is brain-stem dead and continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.

Chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, Alistair Chesser, said: "Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences remain with Archie's family at this difficult time.

"We are following the direction of the courts, so no changes will be made to Archie's care whilst the family appeal to the Supreme Court, though we will prepare to withdraw treatment after midday tomorrow (Tuesday) unless directed otherwise."

UK government and UN involvement in case

The UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities had asked the UK government on Friday to stop Archie's life support being withdrawn until it had the chance to review the case.

The government's legal department then wrote a letter on Sunday on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay, asking the courts to urgently consider the committee's request.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan at the Court of Appeal, said the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on which the UN committee based its request, is an "unincorporated international treaty".

He said: "It is not part of the law of the United Kingdom... and it is not appropriate for this court to apply an unincorporated international treaty into its decision-making process."

"Every day that (Archie) continues to be given life-sustaining treatment is contrary to his best interests and, so, a stay, even for a short time, is against his best interests," he added.

The judge said that was the decision that has been taken in the courts of England and Wales.

Sir Andrew said Archie's case was "stark" as "his system, his organs and, ultimately, his heart are in the process of closing down".

Judges have heard Ms Dance found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head on 7 April, after she believes he took part in an online challenge.

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