Archie Battersbee case sent to High Court for 'urgent consideration'

Archie Battersbee case is sent BACK to High Court for ‘urgent consideration’ following UN intervention – as life support treatment is set to end at 2pm tomorrow

  • Archie, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, suffered brain damage at home on April 7
  • The 12-year-old has been at the centre of legal battle to keep his life support on
  • His parents’ plea to stop his machine being turned off was rejected by the court 
  • They had gone directly to the United Nations in an effort to keep their son alive
  • The case has now been sent back to the High Court for ‘urgent consideration’
  • The NHS Trust letter has laid out in detail what will happen to their little boy 

This afternoon, the Government Legal Department has dramatically referred Archie Battersbee’s case back to the Family Division of the High Court for ‘urgent consideration.’

It is understood that the matter has been referred by the Government Legal Department to an out-of-hours duty judge, who is expected to respond within hours.

The move follows the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) issuing an interim measures injunction on Friday, July 29, to the UK government.

Despite the intervention, Barts Health NHS Trust, which is responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, said that it would carry on with plans to remove life-support tomorrow.

‘The anxiety of being told that Archie’s life-support will be removed tomorrow at 2pm has been horrific,’ his mother, Hollie Dance, said.

‘We are already broken and the not-knowing what was going to happen next is excruciating. 

‘We are relieved that the government has taken the UN’s intervention seriously. This was not a “request” but an interim measures injunction from the UN.’

This afternoon Archie’s family released a statement responding to comments in the media from the hospital Trust regarding withdrawal of life-support, which they have described as ‘misleading.’ 

Their family have been told by letter how the little boy will have his life support treatment removed tomorrow in a procedure they today branded ‘cruel and wrong’.

Barts Health NHS Trust said in the note to his parents Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee ‘all fluid infusions, medications, including vasopressin will be stopped’ at 2pm on August 1.

In one heartbreaking sentence it warns them only immediately family will be allowed into the room, meaning others will be banned.

And in another particularly insensitive part of the message the trust says a doctor will need to ‘assess Archie regularly to confirm that the heart has stopped beating’.

One of the little boy’s aunts had been booked on a flight to come over from Italy to see him but will now no longer be able to under the Trust’s rules.

The letter – given to MailOnline with permission of the family –  has come despite the UN urging a pause on proceedings. 

A statement from Hollie and Paul said: ‘The Trust has been dragging us as a family through the courts at a breakneck speed from April 27 till the final decision of the Supreme Court this Thursday evening.

‘The Trust has never made any attempt to agree any sort of compromise with us on any matters great or small. For example this Friday, our lawyers received a letter from the Trust demanding that all videos of Archie and his medical equipment taken on the ward, which we believe is evidence of improvement in Archie’s condition (such as his attempts to breathe independently) are immediately deleted; and threatened legal proceedings for an alleged breach of data protection.

‘We as a family are very disappointed that the Trust’s management has chosen to hide behind euphemisms and to mislead the public. It is hard to see any reason for that behaviour except knowing that what they are doing is cruel and wrong.’

It comes after Ms Dance, urged the Health Secretary to ‘act immediately’ to stop the treatment ending, saying it would be ‘a flagrant breach’ of his rights.

The letter from the NHS Trust to Archie’s parents, shared with MailOnline with their permission

Archie, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, suffered brain damage at home on April 7 and is in coma

Archie’s parents’ plea to stop his life support machine being turned off was rejected by court

The letter, sent over the weekend, also read: ‘We understand that any discussions around the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment are very difficult and painful.

‘However, we want to ensure that you and your family are involved as much as you wish to be.’

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, the youngster’s parents, will be told on Monday morning how the withdrawal process is to be performed, with the aim to ‘preserve Archie’s dignity’, the letter read.

It went on: ‘You or any of the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or have him in your arms, if that should be practically possible.’

Yesterday, Ms Dance had written an urgent open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Stephen Barclay, urging the government to prevent withdrawal of life-support being withdrawn following the UN CRPD intervention.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the families’ lawyers had made a last-ditch application to the UN CRPD following the refusal of the UK’s Supreme Court to intervene in the case on Thursday. 

The court order for the removal of life-support came into effect at 2pm yesterday, but the family lawyers sought urgent assurances that Royal London Hospital would not begin removing treatment while the parents apply to the UN CRPD.

The UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, with UNRPD using this to ask the UK government to delay the withdrawal of life support while a complaint is investigated.

The family argue that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

The UN CRPD has previously criticised the UK system of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment based on the patient’s ‘best interests’ as determined by the Court. 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, a campaign organisation supporting Archie’s parents, said: ‘We have stood with the family from the beginning three months ago following the tragedy and now continue to pray for this beautiful boy, Archie, and for everyone involved.

‘Life is the most precious gift we have.’ 

A High Court judge had ruled that ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing evidence. 

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn that ruling and Supreme Court justices have refused to intervene.

Writing to Health Secretary Stephen Barclay on Saturday, Ms Dance said: ‘If this happens, this will be an extraordinary cruelty, and a flagrant breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.

Doctors have been given permission to turn off Archie’s life support machine, but his parents are trying to continue the fight to keep him alive. Pictured is Archie in hospital

In their letter Archie’s parents Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee plead with Health Secretary Steve Barclay to intervene to prevent the ‘extraordinary cruelty’ of ending their son’s life

Archie with his mother Hollie Dance (left), brother Tom Summers and sister Lauren Summers

‘Archie is entitled to have the decisions about his life and death, taken by the NHS and UK courts, to be scrutinised by an international human rights body. Hastening his death to prevent that would be completely unacceptable.

‘I trust that you will now act immediately, as a member of the Government responsible for the NHS, to ensure that this does not happen, and our country honours its obligations under the international human rights treaties which we have signed and ratified.’

They also asked the United Nations to intervene in a ‘last-ditch’ application, with it issuing an interim measures injunction to the UK government on Friday.

The UN Committee On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities wrote to Archie’s parents and legal team saying it had ‘requested the state party [the UK] to refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from the alleged victim while the case is under consideration by the committee’.

It added: ‘This request does not imply that any decision has been reached on the substance of the matter under consideration.’

The family said stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under international human rights law.

Archie’s parents asked hospital bosses to continue treatment until the UN has considered the case.

Judges in London 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.

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that ‘further delay’ in starting to provide ‘palliative care’ to Archie would ‘not be appropriate’ without a court order.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.

‘We have received the letter and will respond in due course.’

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