Legal counsel on the Coronation Street cobbles for life support storyline

Two legal experts have been advising Coronation Street scriptwriters and researchers as character Leanne Battersby battles to keep her son Oliver on life support against the advice of the hospital.

Child law expert Lorraine Cavanagh QC, of St John’s Buildings Barristers Chambers, and Mathieu Culverhouse, partner in public law at Irwin Mitchell, spent several months assisting the Coronation Street team as it navigates a storyline about a child who cannot survive without life support and the legal action taken by the Hospital.

The storyline began on 5th October, as viewers saw Oliver Battersby diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease, and is expected to run until the end of November. It follows Oliver’s parents Leanne Battersby and Steve McDonald as the court to decides whether Oliver should continue to remain on life support.

Coronation Street turned to Lorraine and Mat to ensure the legal aspects of the storyline were accurate and reflected the reality these types of cases. Both Lorraine and Mat have been involved in multiple cases of this kind and are well-equipped to provide guidance.

Lorraine Cavanagh QC, child law expert of St John’s Buildings, comments: “Withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from children only very occasionally results in a dispute determined by the Court. When they do these are the most sensitive and emotionally challenging cases to navigate. Coronation Street recognised the need to handle this subject matter extremely carefully and was determined to ensure that the storyline was forensically accurate. The producers and researcher have acted with a high degree of integrity to respect the sensitivities involved here.

“I have no doubt many viewers have been moved by this storyline and it is important to ensure it is both sensitive and reflective of the realities of the ethical dilemma.”

Mat Culverhouse, partner at Irwin Mitchell, adds: “I’ve enjoyed working closely with Lorraine and the script writers over the past few months to make sure the legal side of Leanne and Steve’s journey was accurate and best showed the reality of a very tough situation.

“The story will certainly pack an emotional punch and it will be interesting to see the viewer’s reaction.”

A spokesperson for Coronation Street, concludes: “Coronation Street has a responsibility to tackle real life issues in an accurate and well researched way. We could not do this without the help of experts like Mat and Lorraine. The work they have done with us on this storyline has been invaluable and we are hugely grateful to them for their support.”

The storyline will continue on ITV on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

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