Secrecy for family trying to shift euthanasia law

A judge has controversially ordered secrecy over the identity of a woman who is trying to shift the law on euthanasia.

The case centres on a mother who is seeking a court’s permission to withdraw food, water and medical treatment from her brain-damaged daughter.

Critics have expressed concern at the gagging order, which will extend to other members of the family and carers, for such a landmark life-and-death case.


The case is legally significant because the woman is not in a ‘persistent vegetative state’ (PVS) although she is in a “minimally conscious state”.

If the court gave the go ahead, it would be the first time a court has allowed food and water to be withdrawn from a non-PVS patient.

Food and water can be withdrawn from PVS patients following a court ruling in the case of Tony Bland, a victim of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.


When that case was run, there was no anonymity for the parties.

But yesterday Mr Justice Baker said that there are doubts that the family in this new case would continue calling for their relative’s death if their identities were known.

The decision has been questioned by John Hemming, a Lib Dem minister who campaigns against so-called gagging orders. He said: “This is about life and death and I don’t think it’s acceptable, there is a real issue with transparency.

Out of touch

“The Court of Protection operates in a bubble – it’s out of touch with the real world.”

Lawyer Niri Shan said: “It does seem that there is a strong public interest involved in this case.”

The court is due to hold a full hearing on the case in July.

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