Press Release

Archie Battersbee: Court of Appeal rejects last-minute UN intervention and gives parents until 12pm Tuesday to appeal to the Supreme Court

1 August 2022         Issued by: Christian Concern

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has today rejected the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) interim measures injunction and reinforced that it is in Archie’s ‘best interests’ to have life-support removed.

The ruling has been made despite the UK having joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, which enabled the UNRPD to ask the UK government to delay the withdrawal of life support while a complaint is investigated.

The family argued that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

Representing the family, Edward Devereux QC submitted to the Court of Appeal this morning that: ‘Interim measures made under the human rights treaties are binding under international law’, and that ‘any failure to abide by the terms of a request for interim measures in accordance with the terms of the Convention and, in particular, Art 4 of the Optional Protocol would be a flagrant, egregious and unacceptable breach of international law.’

Handing down judgement, however, Sir Andrew McFarlane described the UN CRPD convention as an: ‘Unincorporated international treaty’ and that it is ‘not appropriate for this Court to apply it into its decision-making process’, and that ‘if this court was to cede to the parents’ application, the Court would be acting contrary to Archie’s ‘best interests.’

He added that: ‘The question of a stay is not dictated by the fact that a request has been made by [the UN CRPD]’ but admitted that the intervention is ‘to a degree untrod ground.’

Sir Andrew McFarlane, however, has now granted a short stay until 12 pm on Tuesday 2 August for the parents to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said: “We continue to be shocked and traumatised by the brutality of the UK courts and the hospital Trust. Our wishes as parents continue to be trampled on and ignored. We do not understand the urgency and rush to end life-support. The hospital Trust has at no point given us time to come to terms with what has happened. This is no way for a compassionate society to treat a family in our situation. We will continue to fight for Archie.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “What Archie’s case has shown is that systematic reform is needed to protect the vulnerable and their families in end-of-life matters. Legislation must be passed reforming the system. Archie’s case stands in the gap. The precedent his case sets can go an incredibly long way to fixing a system which has no room for error.

“We will stand with them as they appeal to the Supreme Court.”

An urgent online hearing at the Court of Appeal was confirmed late last night following interventions from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the UK government.

Yesterday afternoon, (July 31) the Government Legal Department dramatically referred the case back to the High Court for ‘urgent consideration.’

The move followed the UN CRPD issuing an interim measures injunction on Friday 29 July to the UK government stating that Archie’s life-support should not be removed.

Despite the intervention, Barts Health NHS Trust, who are responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, said that they would carry on with plans to remove life-support today from 2pm.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the families’ lawyers had made a last-ditch application to the UN CRPD following the refusal of the UK’s Supreme Court to intervene in the case on Friday 28 July.

Yesterday afternoon, Archie’s family had also released a statement responding to comments in the media from the hospital Trust regarding withdrawal of life-support, which they have described as ‘misleading.’

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