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17 Aug 2022

Timeline in the case of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee

Timeline in the case of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee

Here is a timeline of the tragic case of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee:

– April 7 2022

Archie is found unconscious by his mother, Hollie Dance, at her home in Southend, Essex. He has a ligature around his neck, prompting her to believe he was taking part in an online challenge gone wrong. The boy is taken to hospital with traumatic head injuries.

– April 26

Barts Health NHS Trust, responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, begins High Court proceedings seeking to undertake a test of the brain stem – which is responsible for keeping people alive – and to withdraw mechanical ventilation.

Doctors think it “highly likely” that the youngster is effectively dead, and say it is in his best interests that life-support treatment should stop. Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, raise concerns.

– May 13

High Court Judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that a brain stem test would be in Archie’s best interests.

– May 16

Two specialists attempt a nerve stimulation test on Archie, but no response is detected.

– June 6-8

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, oversees three days of evidence and argument relating to Archie’s treatment. Doctors think it is “very likely” he is “brain-stem dead”. Lawyers representing Archie’s family say his heart is still beating and want care to continue.

– June 13

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that Archie is dead and says doctors can lawfully stop treating him. Archie’s family say they plan to appeal.

– June 20

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee are granted permission to appeal against the decision.

– June 29

At the subsequent hearing, three appeal judges rule that evidence relating to what is in Archie’s best interests should be reconsidered by a different High Court judge. Archie’s parents say they are “delighted” at the decision.

– July 11

High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden hears evidence from doctors that continuing to treat Archie will only “delay the inevitable”. But the boy’s mother says her son is a “natural-born fighter” and urges doctors to continue care.

– July 15

Mr Justice Hayden rules in favour of the hospital trust, saying the medical evidence is “compelling and unanimous” and paints a “bleak” picture. He adds: “There can be no hope at all of recovery.” Archie’s parents say they will ask Court of Appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s decision.

– July 21-22

Sir Andrew McFarlane, 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 told during a two-day hearing that medical evidence shows Archie is in a “comatose state”.

– July 25

The three Court of Appeal judges rule that doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment to Archie. Again, the family announce plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

– July 28 

Archie’s family fail to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.

– July 29 

Undeterred, the family make a “last-ditch” application to a UN committee to step in.

– July 31

The hospital caring for Archie says his treatment is due to be withdrawn on August 1 at 2pm. However, it is confirmed that the Court of Appeal has granted a virtual hearing for 11am on August 1 after the UK Government asked it to “urgently consider” a request from the UN committee to continue his treatment so the committee could examine his case.

– August 1

The Court of Appeal rejects a request to postpone stopping Archie’s treatment. It says his life-support care will end at midday the following day.

– August 2

Archie’s parents are refused permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court. Ms Dance says Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on August 3 at 11am unless the family have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am that day. The trust will not begin removing life-support until all legal issues have been resolved.

– August 3

The European Court of Human Rights refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family say they intend to ask the High Court to allow the schoolboy to be moved to a hospice.

– August 4

Nearly four months after Archie suffered traumatic head injuries, his parents formally lodge High Court proceedings over the move to hospice care – something the hospital opposes. Archie’s care continues. A hearing takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, lasting late into the evening.

– August 5

Mrs Justice Theis rules it is not in Archie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.

Refusing permission to appeal, the Court of Appeal judges say Mrs Justice Theis’ ruling dealt “comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents” and said the proposed appeal had “no prospect of success”.

A bid to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the High Court ruling violated the European Convention on Human Rights, also fails.

Archie’s family is told his life support will be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday, campaign group Christian Concern says.

– August 6

Archie’s mother Ms Dance tells reporters outside the hospital that her son died at 12.15pm on Saturday.

She said she was “the proudest mum in the world”, adding: “He was such a beautiful little boy and he fought right until the very end, and I am so proud to be his mum.”

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