Assisted suicide challenge fails at high court

A woman’s attempt to gain a clarification in the law over assisted suicide has been rejected by the high court.

Debbie Purdy, 45, from Bradford, suffers from progressive multiple sclerosis and had been hoping for assurances it would be legal for her husband to help end her life by taking her to a Swiss clinic.

It is currently illegal in the UK to assist the suicide of another person, even if it happens abroad, and Mr Puente could face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty of assisting, aiding or abetting a suicide.

But today a judge ruled the clarification was not admissible.

Ms Purdy’s lawyers had argued it was her human right to receive a clarification of the law so she and her husband would know what constituted assistance of a potential journey to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.

An appeal will be granted, however, because of the public interest in the case.

Ms Purdy fears she may be forced into ending her life sooner than would have otherwise been the case.

“My emotional and psychological degeneration is not bad at all but my physical degeneration is happening a lot faster and that means I might not be able to travel by myself for a long time,” she told reporters outside the court.

“Until we get some clarity then I’ll have to face it. I’m not prepared for Omar to face jail. If they won’t tell us in advance what we can do without prosecution. I won’t risk that.”

Ms Purdy said Lord Chief Justice Scott-Baker warned her the appeal had not been granted because he believed it would succeed but because of public interest in the case.

“I suppose I’m optimistic that we’re being able to go forward but I’m so disappointed they couldn’t make a statement this time that would tell the director of public prosecutions to be clear,” she added.

“I just think any British law should be clear.”

Over a hundred UK citizens are understood to have already used the Dignitas clinic to end their lives. None of their relatives are yet to be prosecuted.