Denial of a UN application in the Archie case would violate international law, the court said

Denial of a UN application in the Archie case would violate international law, the court said

Lawyers representing Archie Battersbee’s parents have told Court of Appeal judges that the court will be “complimentary” in a “blatant violation of international law” if the withdrawal of his life support is not postponed.

Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee made a final application to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last week after their court case against Barts Health NHS Trust over his treatment ended.

The boy’s life support at the Royal London Hospital in east London was due to be ended at 2pm on Monday after a High Court judge ruled it was in his best interests and the family had exhausted all appeals.

However, the UN committee made a request to the UK government on Friday, asking them not to withdraw Archie from “any life-sustaining medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial feeding and hydration” while his case is under review.

Trial against Archie Battersbee

Hollie Dance has written to the Secretary of Health (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The government’s legal department responded by writing an urgent letter on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Sunday, urging the courts to consider the committee’s request as a matter of urgency.

The appeals court began considering the questions at a hearing on Monday and is scheduled to make its decision no earlier than 3 p.m.

The Trust will take no steps to end Archie’s treatment until the court has reached its decision on the latest development.

In written submissions to the court, Edward Devereux QC, acting on behalf of Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, said the committee’s request was “binding” under international law.

He argued that any failure to comply with the committee’s request, which was made in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities signed and ratified by the UK in 2008 and 2009, would be a “blatant, egregious and unacceptable breach”. would constitute international law”.

Mr Devereux asked the court to grant a stay to prevent life support being withdrawn until the committee had time to consider Archie’s case, but said he didn’t know how long that would take.

As an alternative, he asked the court to grant a stay within the next week to allow time to seek further information from the committee on the likely timeframe for its decision.

He told the court, “What this court is considering now is whether it will be complicit in a flagrant violation of international law.”

Mr Devereux also argued that it would be “completely inappropriate” for the court to make a decision without asking the government to give its opinion on the committee’s request.

However, Lady Justice King, one of the judges who heard the urgent motion, said the government had chosen not to intervene in the case.

Bruno Quintavalle, who is also representing Archie’s parents at the hearing, said it was “very regrettable” that the government had decided not to take part in the proceedings.

However, Fiona Paterson, who represents Barts Health NHS Trust, said the government had chosen “not to make any submissions, instead effectively seeking guidance from the court”.

She told the court there was “commendable logic” in this decision, as the court had all the information it needed, having previously reviewed the case.

She said the UN committee’s request was not binding, adding that the matter could be decided by a court and that no further government involvement was required.

Trial against Archie Battersbee

Doctors have said Archie Battersbee is brain dead (Image: Hollie Dance/PA)

Claire Watson QC, for Archie’s guardian – an independent advisor appointed to represent him – said the guardian’s view had not changed that given the youngster’s “poor” condition it was no longer in his best interests to continue treatment .

Ms Watson also said in written submissions that there would be no breach of the law if the committee’s motion were denied, adding: “The UN Committee’s motion for the UK Government not to stop life-sustaining medical treatment is purely a motion .

“The motion is unenforceable and if not granted, the consequences for the State party would be criticism and moral rebuke by the UN Committee and possibly wider international criticism for frustrating the Committee’s function.”

The Trust wrote to the family over the weekend to let them know it intended to finish treatment on Monday afternoon, but the government then referred the UN’s request to the court for “urgent consideration” on Sunday.

In its letter, the UN committee said it “requested the State party not to withdraw any life-sustaining medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration” from Archie while his case is under review.

Ms Dance said the family was “relieved” that the government had taken the United Nations’ intervention seriously.

She said: “The fear of learning that Archie’s life support would be removed at 2pm tomorrow was excruciating.

“We’re already broken and not knowing what would happen next is excruciating.”

Archie’s parents are supported by campaign organization Christian Legal Centre.

Archie Battersbee Incident

Archie Battersbee’s father, Paul Battersbee (James Manning/PA)

The Trust previously said in a letter to Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, that the withdrawal process will aim to “preserve Arkie’s dignity”.

The trust said in the letter: “We understand that any discussions about ending Archie’s treatment are very difficult and painful.

“However, we want to make sure you and your family are involved as much as you wish.”

It added: “You or someone in the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or hold him in your arms if that is practically possible.”

Ms Dance said it would amount to “extraordinary cruelty” and a “blatant violation of Archie’s rights as a disabled person”.

She said: “Archie is entitled to have the decisions about his life and death made by the NHS and UK courts reviewed by an international human rights organisation.

“To hasten his death to prevent that would be totally unacceptable.”

Judges heard Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 after believing he had taken part in an online challenge.

Doctors believe Archie is brain dead and say continued life support is not in his best interests.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are aware that this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.

“The government has asked the Supreme Court to urgently consider the request of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.