Archies Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee have fought to keep the boy treated
Doctors will today discontinue Archie Battersbee’s life support treatment after a string of legal battles came to an end.
The 12-year-old boy’s parents have appealed to the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court to continue treatment.
Archie was found unconscious by his mother Hollie Dance at their home in Southend, Essex on April 7 and has not regained consciousness.
Life support was scheduled to be withdrawn by Saturday morning (6 August).
His parents made a last-minute offer this week to put Archie in hospice to die, but it was turned down.
But why did judges rule that doctors could end his treatment?
Here is what was said at the time.
Why did the judges decide that doctors could stop treatment?
Ms Justice Arbuthnot ruled Archie dead and said doctors could lawfully stop treatment on June 13 after a June 6-8 hearing.
His parents appealed the decision.
Mr Judge Hayden, reviewing evidence at a hearing in the High Court’s Family Division, concluded on Friday July 15 that ending treatment was in Archie’s best interests.
He described what happened to Archie as a “tragedy of immeasurable proportions”.
Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, had previously concluded that Archie was dead.
However, the appeals court judges upheld a challenge by Archie’s parents to decisions made by Ms Justice Arbuthnot and said evidence should be reviewed.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, have told judges they believe he is “brain dead” and say continued life support is not in his best interests.
Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, have asked for rulings on what steps are in Archie’s best interests.
After hearings on July 21 and July 22, Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the High Court’s Family Division and senior family judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, ruled again that doctors can lawfully stop providing life support Treatment for Archie.
“The damage to his brain has deprived him of all physical autonomy”
“Archie’s mother described him as a fighter and I have no doubt he was one,” Judge Hayden said.
“But the fight, if it can be properly characterized as such, is no longer in Archie’s control.
“The damage to his brain has taken away all physical autonomy.
“Eventually Archie’s organs will fail and eventually his heart will stop.”
Mr Justice Hayden said the reality of Archie’s case was “terrible”.
He said: “The medical evidence shows that no improvement is possible for Archie.
“Unfortunately, there is no treatment that could reverse the damage done to Archie’s brain.
“There can be no hope of recovery at all.”
The judge said he came to his conclusions with “deep regret”.
Ms Dance, Mr Battersbee and other members of Archie’s family were in court to hear the judge set out his conclusions.
What happened to Archie?
Archie’s mum has told how she found him unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and believes he may have been taking part in an online challenge.
He has not regained consciousness.
Mr Justice Hayden said medical evidence was “convincing and unanimous” and painted a “gloomy” picture.
The judge said evidence showed Archie suffered “significant injury” to “multiple areas” of his brain and “never regained consciousness”.
What is the timeline of events in the case?
Archie is found unconscious at her home in Southend, Essex by his mother, Hollie Dance. He has a ligature around his neck, leading her to believe he participated in an online challenge gone awry. The boy is taken to the hospital with traumatic head injuries.
Barts Health NHS Trust, responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, is starting a High Court case to conduct a test of the brainstem – which is responsible for keeping people alive – and halt mechanical ventilation.
Doctors think it’s “very likely” that the boy is in fact dead and say it’s in his best interest to stop life support. Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, have expressed concerns.
High Court Judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that a brainstem test would be in Archie’s best interest.
Two specialists try a nerve stimulation test on Archie, but no response is detected.
Ms Justice Arbuthnot, who sits in the Family Division of the High Court, will spend three days overseeing evidence and arguments relating to Archie’s treatment. The doctors consider it “very likely” that he is “brain stem dead”. Lawyers representing Archie’s family say his heart is still beating and want care to continue.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules Archie is dead and says doctors can lawfully stop treating him. Archie’s family plans to appeal.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee are granted leave to appeal the decision.
At the ensuing hearing, three appeal judges rule that evidence relating to what is in Archie’s best interests should be re-examined by another High Court judge. Archie’s parents say they are “delighted” with the decision.
High Court Judge Mr Justice Hayden is hearing evidence from doctors that continuing treatment for Archie will only “delay the inevitable”. But the boy’s mother says her son is a “natural born fighter” and is urging doctors to keep looking after him.
Mr Justice Hayden rules in favor of the Hospital Trust, saying the medical evidence is “convincing and unanimous” and paints a “dark” picture. He adds: “There can be no hope whatsoever of recovery.” Archie’s parents say they will ask the Court of Appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s decision.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the High Court’s Family Division and Senior Family Court Judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, is told during a two-day hearing that medical evidence shows Archie was in a “comatose state”. .
The three appeals court judges rule that doctors can lawfully stop Archie’s life support. The family again announced that they would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Archie’s family fails to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.
Undeterred, the family makes a “last-ditch” request to a UN committee to intervene.
The hospital taking care of Archie says his treatment is due to end at 2pm on August 1. But it is confirmed that the Court of Appeal granted a virtual hearing at 11am on August 1 after the UK government asked it to “urgently consider” a request from the UN committee to continue its hearing so that the committee could consider its case could check.
Court of Appeal denies motion to postpone ending Archie’s treatment It says his life support will end at noon the next day.
Archie’s parents are denied permission to appeal recent Supreme Court ruling. According to Ms Dance, Barts Health NHS Trust will begin removing Archie’s life support at 11am on August 3 unless the family files an application with the European Court of Human Rights by 9am that day. The Trust will not begin removing life support until all legal issues have been resolved.
The European Court of Human Rights rejected the application in the last resort. Archie’s family say they intend to apply to the High Court to allow the student to be placed in a hospice.
Almost four months after Archie suffered traumatic head injuries, his parents formally brought a case in the High Court over moving to a hospice – something the hospital refuses. Archie’s care continues. A hearing is taking place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, which lasts late into the evening.
Mrs. Justice Theis decides that it is not in Archie’s interest to be placed in a hospice. The High Court judge has refused the family permission to appeal their decision and has granted a stay of withdrawal from Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday so that they can proceed directly to the Court of Appeal.
The appeals court judges refused leave to appeal, saying Ms Justice Theis’ decision “dealed comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents” and said the proposed appeal had “no chance of success”.
A complaint before the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the judgment of the Supreme Court violated the European Convention on Human Rights also fails.
Archie’s family will be told his life support will be cut off at 10am on Saturday, campaign group Christian Concern says.