Press Release

Government sends Archie case back to High Court for ‘urgent consideration’ following UN intervention

31 July 2022         Issued by: Christian Concern

The Government Legal Department has dramatically referred the case of Archie Battersbee back to the Family Division of the High Court for ‘urgent consideration.’

It is understood that the matter has now been referred by the Government Legal Department to an out-of-hours duty judge, who is expected to respond within hours.

The move follows the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) issuing an interim measures injunction on Friday 29 July to the UK government.

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 on Monday 1 August.

This afternoon Archie’s family has 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.’

Yesterday (30 July), the mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, had written an urgent open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Rt. Hon. Stephen Barclay MP, urging the government to prevent withdrawal of life-support being withdrawn following the UN CRPD intervention.

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 yesterday (28 July).

The court order for the removal of life-support came into effect at 2pm yesterday, but the family lawyers sought urgent assurances that Royal London Hospital would not begin removing treatment while the parents apply to the UN CRPD.

The UK has 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 argue 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.

The UN CRPD has previously criticised the UK system of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment based on the patient’s ‘best interests’ as determined by the Court. In its 2017 “Concluding observations on the initial report of the United Kingdom” on UK’s compliance with the Convention, the CRPD stated: “The CRPD notes with concern that the substituted decision-making applied in matters of termination or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and care is inconsistent with the right to life of persons with disabilities as equal and contributing members of society.”

Responding to the news, Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said: “We are relieved that the government has taken the UN’s intervention seriously. This was not a ‘request’ but an interim measures injunction from the UN.

“The anxiety of being told that Archie’s life-support will be removed tomorrow at 2pm has been horrific. We are already broken and the not-knowing what was going to happen next is excruciating.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Life is the most precious gift we have. We have stood with the family from the beginning three months ago following the tragedy and now continue to pray for this beautiful boy, Archie, and for everyone involved.”

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