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European court refuses to intervene in Archie Battersbee hospice bid

European court refuses to intervene in Archie Battersbee hospice bid
Family told youngster’s life-sustaining treatment will be withdrawn on Saturday, campaigners say

A European court has refused to intervene in Archie Battersbee’s family’s legal battle to have the 12-year-old moved to a hospice.

Archie’s family have been told that his life-sustaining treatment will be withdrawn on Saturday at 10am and are “devastated” that “all legal routes have been exhausted”, said Christian Concern, a campaign group supporting the Battersbees.

Following a gruelling and unsuccessful legal battle to prolong the 12-year-old’s life support, Archie’s family then sought to have their son moved from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel before his treatment ends.

In a last-ditch bid on Friday evening, they sought help from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after the British Court of Appeal confirmed shortly after 6.30pm that it had refused them permission to appeal a High Court judgement preventing Archie from being moved to a hospice.

But some three hours later, the European court said its judges would not intervene by applying the “interim measures” permitted in “exceptional” cases where it “considers that the applicant faces a real risk of serious, irreversible harm if the measure is not applied”.

The family’s “submissions did not appear to contain an explicit request for the court to take a specific action under Rule 39”, a spokesperson said in reference to the legal process allowing for such measures.

In their bid to the court, Archie’s parents had argued there had been a violation of articles six and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights – which lay out the right to a fair trial, and to respect for private and family life.

But the court’s president decided that these complaints fell outside the scope of its powers under Rule 39, the ECHR spokesperson said.

Prior to the court’s decision, Barts Health NHS Trust had said its position remained the same in that no changes would be made to Archie’s care “until the outstanding legal issues are resolved”.

Archie has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother at their home in Southend, Essex, in April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

His mother, Hollie Dance, believes he was taking part in an online challenge that left him catastrophically ill.

On Wednesday the couple’s lengthy legal battles to prolong his life support ended when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene to halt the withdrawal of treatment.

The family’s focus then shifted to trying to get their son moved to a hospice, but Mrs Justice Theis at the High Court concluded on Friday that it was not in Archie’s best interests to be moved.

Doctors said Archie was in such a grave condition that moving him to a hospice carried a “significant risk” he could die during the journey, the High Court was told.

Ruling on Friday that he should remain in hospital while his life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn, Ms Justice Theis said due to the risks involved in a transfer and “the increasing fragility of his medical condition”, Archie should remain in hospital when his treatment is withdrawn.

“The circumstances outlined by Dr F of the physical arrangements at the hospital and the arrangements that can be made will ensure that Archie’s best interest will remain the focus of the final arrangements to enable him peacefully and privately to die in the embrace of the family he loved,” Ms Theis said.

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