MS patient Debbie Purdy backs right to die judges

Debbie Purdy

Debbie Purdy

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A campaigning multiple sclerosis patient in Bradford has backed a court's decision to rule against a right-to-die campaign.

Supreme Court justices yesterday ruled against Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson by a seven-two majority following a hearing in London.

Mr Lamb - a paralysed former builder of Pudsey - and Mrs Nicklinson, who is the widow of a man who had locked-in syndrome, wanted the court to rule that disabled people should have the right to be helped to die with dignity.

Nine justices had been asked to decide whether a prohibition on assisted suicide - outlined in the 1961 Suicide Act - was compatible with the right to respect for private and family life enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Five of the nine justices concluded that the court had the "constitutional authority" to declare that a general prohibition on assisted suicide was incompatible with the human right to private and family life. Two of those five said they would have made such a declaration.

Debbie Purdy, of Undercliffe, who won a legal challenge in 2009 for the guidelines on assisted suicide to be re-examined, said: "I generally think the result was a very good one, because what they have said is not about the case. They haven't said 'go away, we don't want to think about this again'.

"They have said that the Lords and parliament should be aware that if they don't do anything to firm up the result of my case, like the guidelines, then they would have to take matters into their own hands in about a year."

She added: "They have effectively said they think that the guidelines that they wrote in my case were good, but need to be properly explored by the House of Commons."

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