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Bid to delay Archie Battersbee’s life-support treatment being withdrawn fails

Written by on 1 August 2022

An application to delay the withdrawal of life-preserving treatment being provided to brain-damaged 12-year-old Archie Battersbee has failed.

The Court of Appeal has granted a stay on the withdrawal of life support until midday tomorrow.

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support since April after being found unconscious at home by his mother in Southend, Essex – was set to have treatment withdrawn at 2pm today.

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

Undated family handout photo of Archie Battersbee, 12, who's mother Hollie Dance, 46, is at the centre of a High Court life-treatment dispute has urged a judge to give the youngster Image: Archie has been on life support since April

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

Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, may now ask Supreme Court justices to consider their application for permission to appeal directly.

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

More on Archie Battersbee

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Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities had asked the UK government to stop Archie’s life support being withdrawn until it had the chance to review the case.

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, 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.”

“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.

Archie's parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance Image: Archie’s parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance

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

Edward Devereux QC, acting for Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, claimed the UN committee’s request was “binding” under international law.

He argued that any failure to abide by the committee’s request, made in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which was signed and ratified by the UK in 2008 and 2009, would be a “flagrant, egregious and unacceptable breach of international law”.

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