Archie Battersbee: Family loses appeal to Supreme Court

Archie Battersbee
Archie Battersbee suffered brain damage in an incident at home on 7 April and has not regained consciousness (Image: Hollie Dance)

Archie Battersbee’s parents have lost an appeal with the Supreme Court – on the day his life-support was due to be withdrawn.

On Monday, Court of Appeal judges ruled that the 12-year-old’s life-sustaining treatment should not continue beyond 12:00 BST on Tuesday.

His parents lodged an application to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court which has been refused.

Archie’s life support will be switched off at 11am tomorrow his family has said.

Archie was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April.

He has never regained consciousness and his mother, Hollie Dance, believes he may have been taking part in an online challenge when he suffered brain damage.

Hollie Dance, mother of Archie Battersbee, holding a soft toy and standing outside the High Court
Ms Dance said she will “fight to the bitter end” adding that the family’s lawyers were exploring another possible legal action (Image: James Manning)


Speaking after the decision, Ms Dance said she will “fight to the bitter end” adding that the family’s lawyers were exploring another possible legal action.

“I stated I would fight to the bitter end for Archie and as his mum that exactly what I’ve done,” she said.

“I hope I’ve paved the way for any other parents that want to go up against a trust in this country and the justice system.”

She said she felt the system to decide treatment options where there is a dispute between families and hospital trusts “needs reforming dramatically”.

Barts NHS Health Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital in east London where Archie is being treated, said it would continue to “work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment”.

Doctors treating him have said they believe it is “highly likely” he is brain-stem dead and argued it is in his best interest for life-support to end.

previous High Court ruling heard Archie’s “every bodily function is now maintained by artificial means”.

The family had asked judges to assess whether more time should be given for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) to look at the case.

But the Supreme Court said it was “not persuaded that there is an arguable case that the Court of Appeal has so erred and accordingly refuses permission to appeal to this Court”.

It also said the Court of Appeal “made the correct decision”.

The ruling said it was “not clear that Archie has any more extensive rights in international law” nor was the decision to end treatment a “breach of international law”.

“The panel reaches this conclusion with a heavy heart,” the ruling said.

Hollie dance with her son Archie(Image: Hollie Dance)


According to the family’s legal team, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, had intervened and government lawyers told the court any UN measures were “not binding”.

Ms Dance, said: “We are extremely disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision and the intervention by the government.

“No authorities, other than the UN CRPD, have shown any compassion or understanding to us as a family. The government intervention at the last moment feels like a betrayal.”

The Supreme Court said it had considered submissions from the health secretary in reaching its decision.

Archie’s care was due to end at 14:00 on Monday, but the government asked judges to consider a request from a UN committee to continue treatment.

President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan had ordered a short delay in withdrawing life-sustaining treatments until Tuesday for Archie’s parents to consider any other applications they wish to make.

At that hearing, Sir Andrew said: “In short, his system, his organs and, ultimately, his heart are in the process of closing down.”

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family.

“As directed by the courts, we will now work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment.

“We aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time.”

The Christian Legal Centre, which has been supporting the legal action by Archie Battersbee’s parents, has called for changes to the law following Archie’s case.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “What Archie’s case has shown is that systematic reform is needed to protect the vulnerable and their families in end-of-life matters.

“Legislation must be passed reforming the system. Archie’s case stands in the gap. The precedent his case sets can go an incredibly long way to fixing a system which has no room for error.”


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