Three Court of Appeal judges are preparing to consider the latest stage of a life-support treatment fight centred on a 12-year-old boy who suffered “catastrophic” brain damage in an accident at home three months ago.
Archie Battersbee’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee – of Southend, Essex, have mounted an appeal bid after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could lawfully stop treatment.
Sir Andrew McFarlane – the president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson are listed to consider arguments at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Thursday.
Mr Justice Hayden delivered a ruling on Friday after reviewing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
He described what happened to Archie as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”.
But he said medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous” and painted a “bleak” picture.
Mr Justice Hayden heard how Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
She thinks he may have been taking part in an online challenge.
The youngster has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is “brain-stem dead” and say continued life support treatment is not in his best interests.
Archie’s parents disagree and say his heart is beating.
They are being supported by a campaign group called the Christian Legal Centre.
Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions about what medical moves are in Archie’s best interests.
Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case.
She concluded, after an earlier hearing, that Archie is dead.
But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by Archie’s parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed.
Mr Justice Hayden said evidence shows Archie suffered a “significant injury” to “multiple areas” of his brain and had not “regained awareness at any time”.
He said the reality of Archie’s case was “terrible”.
“There is unfortunately no treatment possible to reverse the damage that has been caused to Archie’s brain,” he said.
“There can be no hope at all of recovery.”
The judge said he reached his conclusion with “profound regret”.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This family have fought courageously to get to this point in taking a stand for Archie’s life.
“We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they appeal this ruling.”