This afternoon, the State Department of Justice has returned Archie Battersbee’s case to the Family Division of the High Court for ‘urgent consideration.’
It has been learned that the matter has been referred by the State Legal Department to an external judge, who is expected to respond within the hour.
The move follows the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) issuing a temporary restraining order on Friday, July 29, to the British government.
Despite the intervention, Barts Health NHS Trust, which is responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, said it would go ahead with plans to withdraw life support tomorrow.
“The anxiety of being told that Archie’s life support will be taken off tomorrow at 2pm has been terrifying,” his mother, Hollie Dance, said.
“We are already broken and not knowing what will happen next is sad.
‘We are relieved that the government has taken the action of the United Nations seriously. This was not a “request” but an order for interim measures from the United Nations.’
This afternoon Archie’s family issued a statement in response to comments in the media from the hospital’s Trust about the withdrawal of life support, which they described as ‘misleading.’
Their family has been told in a letter how the little child will be removed from his treatment tomorrow in a procedure that today they have called ‘cruel and bad’.
Barts Health NHS Trust said in a letter to her parents Mrs Dance and Paul Battersbee that ‘all fluids, medication, including vasopressin will be stopped’ at 2pm on August 1.
In one sad sentence it warns them that only one family will be allowed to enter the room, meaning others will be banned.
And in another less serious part of the message the trust says the doctor will need to ‘assess Archie regularly to confirm the heart has stopped beating’.
One of the little boy’s aunts had been booked on a flight from Italy to see him but now she will no longer be able to according to the Trust’s rules.
The letter – released to MailOnline with the family’s permission – comes despite the United Nations calling for a halt to the proceedings.
A statement from Hollie and Paul said: ‘The Trust has been dragging us as a family through the courts at full speed from April 27 until the final High Court decision this Thursday evening.
‘The Trust has never made any attempt to agree to any kind of compromise with us on any issues big or small. For example this Friday, our solicitors received a letter from the Trust demanding that all videos of Archie and his medical equipment taken from the ward, which we believe are evidence of Archie’s improving condition (such as his attempts to breathe freely) be deleted immediately. ; and threatening legal action for alleged data protection breaches.
‘We as a family are very disappointed that the management of the Trust have chosen to hide behind defamatory words and mislead the public. It is difficult to see any reason for such behavior except to know that what they are doing is cruel and wrong.’
It comes after Ms Dance called on the Health Secretary to ‘take immediate action’ to stop the treatment, saying it would be a ‘clear violation’ of her rights.
A letter from the NHS Trust to Archie’s parents, shared with MailOnline with their permission
Archie, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, suffered brain damage at home on April 7 and is in a coma.
Archie’s parents’ request to have his life support machine turned off was rejected by the court
The letter, sent over the weekend, also read: ‘We understand that any discussion about withdrawing from Archie’s treatment is extremely difficult and painful.
‘However, we want to make sure that you and your family are as involved as you want to be.’
Mrs Dance and Mr Battersbee, the boy’s parents, will be told on Monday morning how the withdrawal process will be carried out, with the aim of ‘preserving Archie’s status’, the letter read.
It continued: ‘You or any of the family may wish to sleep in Archie’s bed with him or hold him in your arms, if that is possible.’
Yesterday, Ms Dance had written an urgent open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Stephen Barclay, urging the government to prevent the withdrawal of life support following the UN CRPD intervention.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the families’ lawyers had submitted a final application to the UN’s CRPD following the UK Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in the case on Thursday.
The court order to withdraw life support came into effect at 2pm last night, but the family’s lawyers wanted immediate assurances that the Royal London Hospital would not start withdrawing treatment while the parents applied to the UN CRPD.
The UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the UNRPD is using this to ask the UK government to delay 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.
The UN CRPD has previously criticized the UK’s system of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment based on the patient’s ‘best interests’ as determined by the Court.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, a campaign organization supporting Archie’s parents, said: “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 child, Archie, and for everyone involved.
‘Life is the most precious gift we have.’
A High Court judge had decided that stopping the treatment was in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing the evidence.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn the decision and High Court judges have refused to intervene.
Writing to Health Secretary Stephen Barclay on Saturday, Ms Dance said: “If this happens, this would be incredibly cruel, and a clear breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.
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.
Archie and his mother Hollie Dance (left), brother Tom Summers and sister Lauren Summers
‘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.”
They also asked the United Nations to intervene in a ‘last resort’ request, while issuing an interim order to the British government on Friday.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities wrote to Archie’s parents and legal team saying it had ‘applied the government party. [the UK] refrain from withdrawing life-saving treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and fluids, from the alleged victim while the case is being considered by the committee’.
It added: ‘This request does not imply that any decision has been reached on the substance of the matter under consideration.’
The family said stopping the treatment would be a breach of the UK’s obligations under international human rights law.
Archie’s parents asked the hospital authorities to continue treatment until the United Nations considers the case.
Jurors in London have heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over 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.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that ‘further delay’ in starting to provide ‘sensitive care’ to Archie would ‘not be appropriate’ without a court order.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We recognize that this is a very difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.
‘We have received the letter and will respond in due course.’