Archie Battersbee’s parents have urged the Health Secretary to prevent the NHS hospital from defying a last-minute order from the United Nations which had decided his life support should not be turned off.
The mother and father of the 12-year-old child, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, had asked the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNRPD) to overturn the decision of British doctors to withdraw the intervention of the schoolboy.
His family had 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 Persons with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Their demands were granted on Friday evening in an 11th-hour legal order that prevented the withdrawal of Archie’s care by an international organization.
But Barts Health NHS Trust, the health board now tasked with caring for the schoolboy, was today accused of threatening to turn off his life support on Monday afternoon despite an intervention.
The Christian Legal Centre, the legal firm which has supported Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee in their appeal, revealed that the couple had sent an urgent letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay asking him to block the termination of their child’s care.
The government has not yet responded to the UN order issued more than 24 hours ago.
Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dansi outside the Royal Courts of London last Friday. The ‘confused’ couple lost their battle at the High Court and the Court of Appeal in London where they asked doctors to continue Archie Battersbee’s treatment.
Doctors have been given permission to turn off Archie’s life support machine, but his parents are trying to continue the fight to keep him alive. Pictured is Archie in the hospital
In their letter Archie’s parents Mrs Dance and Mr Battersbee are asking Health Secretary Steve Barclay to intervene to prevent the ‘unbelievable cruelty’ of ending their son’s life.
In their letter Mrs Dance and Mr Battersbee are asking the Health Secretary to intervene to prevent the ‘unbelievable cruelty’ of ending their child’s life.
In full, the letter reads: ‘Dear Mr Barclay, You will be aware of the terrible tragedy our family has been going through since our son Archie suffered severe brain damage in April due to an online challenge.
“We are grateful to the doctors and nurses at the Royal London Hospital for the treatment and care given to Archie over the last four months.
“However, I am sorry to say that throughout this period, our pain and suffering has been largely fueled by the actions of two or three senior doctors at the hospital, and the management of Barts Health NHS Trust.
“From day one, the family as well as the GPs have been under daily pressure from the Trust to reject Archie, withdraw life support and let him die. After just three weeks, we were dragged to Court with a few hours notice.
“Since then, in these three months, we have been rushed from one court to another every few days, having to fight for Archie’s life against an army of lawyers and generously funded NHS managers.
‘In all these months, we were not given the chance of even a few days to deal with the family tragedy.
‘You will be aware that our case is now before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, who last night issued an ‘Interim Measures’ order for the British government to keep Archie alive while the Committee considers the case. Under Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities, interim measures are binding on the UK as a matter of international human rights law.
“Sadly, the Trust’s lawyers have responded by telling the family that the Trust intends to defy the UN order and proceed to withdraw life support from Archie as early as Monday 1 August.
“If this happens, it will be incredibly cruel, and a clear violation of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.
‘Archie has the right to have decisions about his life and death, made by the NHS and UK courts, scrutinized by an international human rights organisation. To hasten his death to prevent that would be completely unacceptable.
“I trust that you will now act immediately, as a member of the government responsible for the NHS, to ensure that this does not happen, and that our country respects its obligations under the international human rights treaties that we have signed and ratified.”
The ‘confused’ couple lost their battle at the High Court and the Court of Appeal in London where they asked doctors to continue his treatment.
Speaking after the United Nations order was announced yesterday, Ms Dance expressed her gratitude for being given another chance to keep her son alive.
He said: ‘I am very grateful to the UN for their response and for taking quick action for my son.
‘We have been under much stress and anxiety; we are already broken and not knowing what will happen next was very bad. Getting this information now means everything.
“This is the first time in the history of this inhumane system in the UK.
‘There have been many ups and downs, but we’ve put on the full armor of God, we’ve gone into battle and now we’ve given Archie time, that’s all we’ve ever asked for.’
The Supreme Court had rejected an appeal in which they asked the doctors to be prevented from turning off his life support machine until they appealed.
They have since held discussions with senior officials at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where he is being treated, in an effort to seek assurances that this will not happen while they appeal to the UNRPD.
Archie’s parents argued that the UNRPD protocol allows ‘individuals and families’ to file complaints about violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.
The UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which allows the UNRPD to ask the UK government to delay the withdrawal of life support while complaints are investigated.
The family argues that stopping the treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which has been supporting the family’s case, said: ‘We are delighted with the response from the United Nations. It is high time that the UK’s procedures for ending children’s lives began to be scrutinized internationally.
“We now hope and pray that the UN Committee will do justice to Archie and his family, as well as other disabled people in UK hospitals in future cases.
‘Life is the most precious gift we have.
“We have stood with the family since the beginning of the last three months following the tragedy and now continue to pray for this beautiful boy, Archie, and everyone involved.”
Archie, pictured, was found with a ligature on his head in April and has not regained consciousness since.
Archie and his mother Hollie Dance (left), brother Tom Summers and sister Lauren Summers
Jurors have heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature on his head on April 7.
He thinks he may have been participating in an online challenge. The boy is unconscious.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is brain dead and say continuing life-sustaining treatment is not in his best interest.
Bosses at the trust that runs the hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions on what medical measures were in Archie’s best interests.
A High Court judge, Ms Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case and concluded that Archie was dead.
But the Court of Appeal judges upheld his parents’ objection to the decision made by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed by a different High Court judge.
Speaking as they launched their final plea today, Ms Dance said: ‘Words cannot describe how devastated we are.
“The pressure put on us from the start to speed up the process of ending Archie’s life has been shameful.’
All we’ve ever asked for is more time. The urgency from hospitals and courts is indescribable when other parties are happy for us to have more time.
“I don’t believe there is anything ‘honourable’ about planning Archie’s death. To me, this would be the most traumatic outcome.
‘Parents need help, not pressure. It’s exhausting what we’ve been through.
“We shouldn’t have to fight the hospital in court for what we believe is right for Archie.
‘The chief justices have told us, however, that this is the law, if it is, the law must change.
“We will continue to fight for Archie, we will not give up and now we are waiting for answers from the UNRPD.”