By Charlotte Webster-
The family of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee cannot move him to a hospice for withdrawal of treatment, a High Court judge has ruled.
His family has failed in a series of legal attempts to sway the courts to allow their young son more time to recover, after being denied by the Court Of Appeal, The High, Court, and the Supreme Court.
An intervention from the UN achieved nothing, and a last shot through an application for permission after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) proved futile, after it refused a request to delay the withdrawal of life-sustaining support.
Archie’s mother wanted him “in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye” after a long legal battle, but doctors warned that there was “significant risk” in moving him.
His mother, Hollie Dance, said she wanted her brain-damaged son to “spend his last moments” together with family privately, but the High Court ruled this was not in Archie’s best interests.
The judge has also refused permission to appeal against her ruling after lawyers for the family requested it.
The family may now pursue a challenge directly with the Court of Appeal, and Mrs Justice Theis granted a stay on the withdrawal of treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow time for an appeal to be lodged.
Archie, who is being treated at the Royal London Hospital, was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April – his mother believes he may have been taking part in an online challenge.
Life-sustaining support, including mechanical ventilation and drug treatments, for Archie has been in place since April.
Due to his “catastrophic” brain injuries, doctors have previously said they think it is “highly likely” he is brain-stem dead.
Archie’s family asked Mrs Justice Theis, who heard evidence relating to the hospice move at a hearing on Thursday, for permission to appeal the decision but were denied. The judge gave a delay to treatment being withdrawn until 14:00 BST Friday for the family to make an application for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal.
In her ruling earlier, Mrs Justice Theis concluded it was not in Archie’s best interests to be moved.
Archie’s Best Interests
She said: “Archie’s best interests must remain at the core of any conclusions reached by this court.
“When considering the wishes of the family, why those wishes are held, the facilities at the hospice, what Archie is likely to have wanted… the risks involved in a transfer… and the increasing fragility of his medical condition, I am satisfied that… he should remain at the hospital when treatment is withdrawn.”
Justice Theis said: “I return to where I started, recognising the enormity of what lays ahead for Archie’s parents and the family. Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case.
“I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him as he clearly does to them.
A doctor treating Archie gave evidence that his best interests would be paramount and that the hospital would “enable him peacefully and privately to die in the embrace of the family he loved.”
Archie’s family had said that circumstances at the Royal London and a breakdown in trust meant Archie would not die with peace and dignity in the hospital.
‘Inhumane’ and a lack of privacy
Ms Dance said before the hearing: “If they refuse permission for us to take him to a hospice and for him to receive palliative oxygen it will simply be inhumane and nothing about Archie’s ‘dignity’.”
She had complained to Times Radio that the family is unable to be in a room together without nurses.
“There’s absolutely no privacy, which is why, again, the courts keep going on about this dignified death – why aren’t we allowed to take our child to a hospice and spend his last moments, his last days together privately?
“Why is the hospital obstructing it?”