Archie Battersbee: Court of Appeal refuse to postpone withdrawal of life-support treatment

The Court of Appeal has given until 12pm tomorrow after which the hospital will be able to end life support

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An application to delay the switching off of the life support of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee has been denied.

The Court of Appeal has given until 12pm tomorrow, after which staff at The Royal London Hospital will be able to end his life-support treatment.

Archie's parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee made a last-ditch application to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last week after their court battle against Barts Health NHS Trust over his treatment ended.

The youngster was due to have his life support at the hospital in east London ended at 2pm on Monday, after a High Court judge ruled this to be in his best interests and the family exhausted all routes of appeal.

Archie Battersbee
Archie Battersbee

But the UN committee issued a request to the UK Government on Friday, asking that it “refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration” from Archie while his case is under consideration.

But on Monday, Sir Andrew McFarlane, sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan, said: “My decision is that, save for granting a short stay until 12 noon tomorrow, the parents’ application for any further stay is dismissed.”

The judge said the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the UN committee based its request on, 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.”

Hollie Dance
Hollie Dance

He added: “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.”

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

The court adjourned briefly to allow lawyers representing Archie’s parents to take instructions from them about a possible bid to ask the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against the decision.

Sir Andrew referred to the medical evidence before Mr Justice Hayden, who ruled on July 15 that Archie’s life-sustaining treatment should be withdrawn.

The judge said: “In short, his system, his organs and, ultimately, his heart are in the process of closing down. The options before the court have always been stark.”

Sir Andrew said the options before the courts on previous occasions were either that treatment was withdrawn immediately, resulting in Archie’s death a short while later, or the option favoured by his parents that he would die at some time in the coming weeks – in their words at a time “chosen by God”.

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

Archie’s parents may now ask Supreme Court justices to consider their application for permission to appeal directly.