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Archie’s parents ‘delighted’ after winning appeal ruling in treatment dispute

Archie Battersbee (Hollie Dance/PA)
Archie Battersbee (Hollie Dance/PA)

The parents of a 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment case say they are “delighted” after winning a Court of Appeal fight.

Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee had asked appeal judges to order a review after a High Court judge concluded that Archie Battersbee, who suffered brain damage about three months ago, was dead.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had ruled that doctors could lawfully stop providing treatment to Archie, after considering evidence at a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Three appeal judges on Wednesday ruled that evidence relating to what was in Archie’s best interests should be reconsidered by a different High Court judge.

They said Mr Justice Hayden would oversee another hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, on July 11.

“We’re delighted,” said Miss Dance after the appeal hearing.

“We wanted another hearing and we’ve got everything we wanted.”

Mr Battersbee added: “Delighted. It couldn’t really have gone any better today.”

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee’s mother Hollie Dance (right) and family friend Ella Carter, outside the High Court in London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Lawyers representing Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, argued that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had made errors

Edward Devereux QC, who led Archie’s parents’ legal team, argued that the case should be remitted to the High Court so a judge could carry out a fuller analysis of whether it was in Archie’s best interests for life-sustaining treatment to continue.

Mr Devereux argued that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had not carried out a “comprehensive” analysis of evidence relating to whether life-support treatment should continue.

He suggested that the analysis had not been of a “gold standard” and told appeal judges: “In matters of life and death the gold standard should be reached.”

Appeal judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls; Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court and most senior family court judge in England and Wales; and Lady Justice King allowed the parents’ appeal.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee, 12, is at the centre of a life-treatment courts dispute (Family handout/PA)

They made no criticism of Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and indicated they would give reasons for their decision at a later date.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, told Mrs Justice Arbuthnot they thought he was “brain-stem dead”.

They said treatment should end and Archie should be disconnected from a ventilator.

Archie’s parents say his heart is still beating and want treatment to continue.

Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to decide what moves were in Archie’s best interests.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot concluded Archie was dead and said treatment should end.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie’s father Paul Battersbee (James Manning/PA)

Mr Devereux said evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that Archie was dead.

He said a decision had been made on a balance of probabilities, and argued that for a decision of such “gravity” judges should apply a “standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt”.

Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April.

Ms Dance said she found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

He has not regained consciousness.