Government lawyers intervened last night in the case of a 12-year-old boy whose life support was withdrawn today.
The move comes after the United Nations called for treatment for Archie Battersby to continue while it is his case.
The boy was found unconscious at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7. Doctors were due to end her treatment at the Royal London Hospital at 2pm today.
After the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities asked for time to consider Archie’s case, the government’s legal advisers have now asked a High Court judge to review the case.
The government’s letter, marked very urgent and written on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay, read: ‘In the circumstances, we wish to bring the request of the (UN) Committee for Interim Measures to the attention of the Court for its urgent consideration… We request that this letter be immediately Out put before the judge…’
The move comes after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) issued an interim measures order to the UK government on Friday, July 29.
Despite the intervention, Barts Health NHS Trust, which is responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, said on Monday it would continue with plans to withdraw life-support.
The long-running legal battle over whether to stop life-support treatment for 12-year-old Archie will be heard at the virtual Court of Appeal at 11am today.
A letter from the NHS Trust to Archie’s parents, shared with MailOnline with their permission
Archie, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, suffered a brain injury at home on April 7 and is in a coma.
A plea by Archie’s parents to stop turning off his life support machine was rejected by the court
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, wrote to the family over the weekend to inform them it planned to end treatment at 2pm on Monday.
‘The worry that Archie is going to be taken off life-support at 2pm tomorrow is terrible,’ said his mum Holly Dance.
‘We are already broken and not knowing what will happen next is distressing.
We are satisfied that the government has taken the intervention of the United Nations seriously. It was not a ‘request’ but an interim measure order from the United Nations.’
This afternoon Archie’s family released a statement responding to media comments from the hospital trust about the withdrawal of life-support, which they called ‘misleading’.
Their families have been told by letter how the little boy will be taken off his life support treatment tomorrow in a process they today branded ‘cruel and wrong’.
Barts Health NHS Trust said in a note to her parents Ms Dance and Paul Battersby: ‘All fluid infusions, including vasopressin, will be stopped at 2pm on August 1.
In one heartbreaking sentence it warns them that immediately the family will be allowed in the room, meaning others will be banned.
And in another particularly insensitive part of the message the trust says a doctor ‘needs to regularly assess Archie to confirm his heart has stopped beating’.
A little boy’s aunt was booked on a flight from Italy to visit him but will no longer be able to under the trust’s rules.
The letter – released to MailOnline with the family’s permission – comes despite UN calls for a halt to the proceedings.
A statement from Holly and Paul said: ‘The trust has been dragging us as a family through the courts since April 27 until the Supreme Court’s final decision this Thursday evening.
The trust has not tried to make any kind of agreement with us on any big or small matter. For example this Friday, our solicitors received a letter from the Trust demanding the immediate deletion of all videos of Archie and his medical equipment taken on the ward, evidence of improvement in Archie’s condition (such as his efforts to breathe freely). ; and threatened legal proceedings for alleged breaches of data protection.
‘As a family, we are very disappointed that the management of the trust chose to hide the fun facts and mislead the public. It’s hard to see any reason for that behavior other than knowing what they’re doing is cruel and wrong.’
It comes after Ms Dance called on the Health Secretary to ‘act immediately’ to stop the treatment ending, saying it would be a ‘violation’ of her rights.
The letter, sent over the weekend, also read: ‘We understand that any discussion about withdrawing Archie’s treatment is very difficult and painful.
‘However, we want to make sure you and your family are as involved as you want to be.’
Doctors are allowed to turn off Archie’s life support machine, but his parents are trying to keep up the fight to keep him alive. Archie is in the hospital in the picture
In their letter, Archie’s parents Ms Dance and Mr Battersby pleaded with Health Secretary Steve Barclay to intervene to stop the ‘extraordinary cruelty’ that ended their son’s life.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersby, the youngster’s parents, will be told on Monday morning how to proceed with the withdrawal, with the aim of ‘protecting Archie’s dignity’, the letter said.
It continued: ‘You or anyone in the family would like to sleep in Archie’s bed with him or hold him in your arms if practicable.’
Yesterday, Ms Dance wrote an urgent open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Stephen Barclay, urging the government to stop withdrawing life-support following the UN CRPD intervention.
Backed by the Christian Legal Centre, lawyers for the family filed a last-ditch application to the UN CRPD on Thursday after the UK Supreme Court refused to intervene in the case.
A court order to remove life-support came into effect from 2pm yesterday, but the family’s lawyers sought immediate assurances that the Royal London Hospital would not begin withdrawing treatment when the parents applied to the UN CRPD.
As the UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UNRPD has used it to urge the UK government to delay withdrawing life support.
The family argued that stopping treatment would breach the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The UN CRPD has already criticized the UK system of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment based on the patient’s ‘best interests’ as determined by the courts.
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 tragedy three months ago and will continue to pray for this beautiful boy Archie. All involved.
‘Life is the most precious gift we have.’
A High Court judge, after reviewing the evidence, decided it was in Archie’s best interests to end the treatment.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersby, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn the ruling and Supreme Court judges to refuse to intervene.
Writing to Health Secretary Stephen Barclay on Saturday, Ms Dance said: ‘If this were to happen, it would be extraordinarily cruel, and a clear breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.
Archie with his mother Holly Dance (left), brother Tom Summers and sister Lauren Summers
‘Archie has the right to have international human rights bodies investigate the decisions made by the NHS and UK courts about his life and death. To hasten his death to prevent this would be completely unacceptable.
‘I trust that you, as the member of government now responsible for the NHS, will act urgently to ensure that this does not happen, and that our country respects its obligations under the international human rights treaties we have signed and ratified.’
They also asked the United Nations to intervene in the ‘last ditch’ application, with it issuing an interim measures order to the UK government on Friday.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities wrote to Archie’s parents and legal team ‘requesting the State party’. [the UK] Prevent the withdrawal of life-saving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from an alleged victim while the case is pending before the committee.
It added: ‘This request does not imply that any decision has been made on the substance of the matter under consideration.’
The family said withholding treatment would breach the UK’s obligations under international human rights law.
Archie’s parents asked the hospital owners to continue the treatment until the United Nations looked into the matter.
Jurors in London heard Ms Dance found Archie unconscious on April 7 with a ligature on his head.
He thinks he might be participating in an online challenge.
The youth has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, consider him brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that ‘further delay’ in starting to provide ‘palliative care’ to Archie was ‘not justified’ without a court order.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We understand this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersby’s family and our thoughts are with them.
‘We have received the letter and will respond in due course.’