Press Release

Archie Battersbee: Court of Appeal hearing tomorrow

28 June 2022         Issued by: Christian Legal Centre

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday 29 June, the Court of Appeal will hear arguments on the tragic end of life case of 12-year-old, Archie Battersbee.

The Master of the Rolls (Sir Geoffrey Vos), the President of the Family Division (Sir Andrew McFarlane) and Lady Justice King will rule whether life support can be removed from Archie.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance, 46 and father, Paul Battersbee, from Southend-On-Sea, have been fighting a legal battle since their son was found unconscious with a ligature around his neck in what is believed to be a tragic accident in April.

They had asked hospital bosses and the courts for Archie to be given more time and for him to have more medical tests to assess whether his condition improves before making the decision about withdrawing his life support.

Doctors, however, have insisted said they believe it is ‘highly likely’ that he is already brain dead and asked the Family Division of the High Court to assess the situation and rule that it is in Archie’s “best interests” to die by removing life support.

At the High Court hearing an eminent paediatric neurologist, Professor Alan Shewmon, gave expert evidence about numerous documented cases where persons diagnosed as ‘brain dead’ subsequently recovered.

When asked whether there was sufficient evidence for a reliable diagnosis of death in Archie’s case, Professor Shewmon replied “absolutely not”.

However, the High Court ruled that, on the balance of probabilities, Archie had already died and that his life support should be removed.

Extremely serious issue

In submissions heard at the High Court, Bruno Quintavalle, acting on behalf of Archie’s parents, said the circumstance of this case have never come before an English court.

“That the court should declare, in the absence of any certainty, that death has occurred”, he said, “is an extremely serious issue”.

“If he is declared dead but actually isn’t dead, the consequences couldn’t be more grave,” Mr Quintavalle warned. “If someone is alive when organs are harvested (for donation), then that act of removing a beating heart will kill them.”

Mr Quintavalle argued that for the court to give a declaration of death, in the absence of a brain stem test confirming such, would mean expanding the legal definition of death and be a “trespass on Parliament’s authority”.

He urged the court to adopt the criminal standard of proof: beyond reasonable doubt.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, has vowed to keep fighting for her son.

No clear definition of death

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the family’s legal case, said: “This case raises the significant moral, legal and medical question as to when a person is dead. Archie’s parents do not accept that he is dead and are fighting for his life.

“There is no clear definition of death in English law, and a case like this has never come before an English court before. The outcome is crucial for Archie and his family and anyone who cares about the value of life in this country.

“We are praying for the Judge to be granted wisdom to reach the right decision.”

89,000 sign petition

Archie’s case is the latest high-profile end of life case involving children following Alife Evans, Charlie Gard, Tafeeda Raqeeb and Zainab Abbasi.

Since Archie went into hospital, his sister Lauren has started an Instagram
page @spreadthepurplewave where people can follow Archie’s journey.

A keen boxer and gymnast, Archie has received videos of support from Celebrity boxers like David Haye and Ricky Hatton and Gold medallist in gymnastics Max Whitlock.

Over 89,000 people have signed a petition calling for Archie to be given more time.

A gofundme for Archie has also raised over £20,000 so far in donations, which the family say could be used to fund Archie receiving treatment abroad.

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