Archie Battersbee's family denied bid to postpone withdrawal of life support by ECHR

Archie's parents submitted the application to the ECHR just hours before Barts Health NHS Trust was expected to withdraw his life support

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has refused an application by the parents of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee to postpone the withdrawal of his life support.

The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother in April and is currently being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, submitted the application to the Strasbourg-based court just hours before Barts Health NHS Trust was expected to withdraw Archie’s life support.

On Tuesday evening, Ms Dance said the trust would begin to withdraw the life support at 11am on Wednesday unless the family submitted the application by 9am.

Archie Battersbee
Archie Battersbee

But it is thought that the withdrawal of life support was delayed following the submission to the ECHR.

In a statement, the ECHR said it “would not interfere” with the decisions of UK courts that life-support treatment should be withdrawn.

The court added it would not grant an interim measure to continue treatment and declared the parents’ complaints “inadmissible”.

The statement went on to say that the court would only grant such requests “on an exceptional basis” and “when the applicants would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm”.

Archie Battersbee and Hollie Dance
Archie Battersbee and Hollie Dance

Following the European court’s decision, in a statement released through Christian Concern, Ms Dance said: “This is another heart-breaking development in our fight for Archie’s right to live.”

She restated that they had been contacted by doctors in Japan and Italy regarding her son’s condition, adding: “Why can’t we give him a chance?”

Ms Dance repeated her vow to “fight to the end for Archie’s right to live”, and said the family had wanted to take the boy to a hospice “but the hospital have said that we cannot do that despite previous promises”.

Some minutes later, asked by reporters outside the hospital whether this defeat felt different, she said: “It’s the end. It was the last thing, wasn’t it? And again our country have failed a 12-year-old child.”

She added: “We’ve now got to fight to see whether we can get him out of here to have a dignified passing at a hospice. It’s just unfair.”

She claimed the hospital had “failed” her son, saying: “I would like him out of here as quick as possible really, and in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye and spend time with his family, uninterrupted by the noise and chaos.”

Becoming tearful, she said: “The one thing I will say is, I promised him I’d fight to the end and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”