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Relatives of boy, 12, in life-support case want evidence reconsidered

Archie Battersbee, 12, whose family is at the centre of a High Court life-treatment dispute (Family handout/PA)
Archie Battersbee, 12, whose family is at the centre of a High Court life-treatment dispute (Family handout/PA)

Relatives of a 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment case want appeal judges to rule that evidence should be reconsidered.

Archie Battersbee’s parents on Wednesday asked for a review after a High Court judge concluded that the youngster was dead.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot recently 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.

Lawyers representing Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, on Wednesday argued that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had made errors.

Edward Devereux QC, who is leading 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.

Hollie Dance, Archie’s mother, outside the High Court (James Manning/PA)

Appeal judges Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls; Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division of the High Court and most senior family court judge in England and Wales; and Lady Justice King are expected to make a decision in the next few hours.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, told Mrs Justice Arbuthnot how they thought that 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.

But she said there was a “compelling reason” why appeal judges should consider the case.

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 a decision of such “gravity” should have been made on a “beyond reasonable doubt” basis.

Mr Devereux argued that judges should apply a “standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt”, not the balance of probabilities, when deciding whether to declare that Archie was dead.

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.