Debbie Purdy

Debbie Purdy was a 51-year-old right to die campaigner who lived with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) for almost 20 years, until she passed away in 2014. Debbie wanted an assisted death with the help of her husband, Omar Puente, but feared that he would be prosecuted under the Suicide Act 1961 as a result. She brought a judicial review claim against  the Director of Public Prosecutions arguing a breach of Art 8 due to his failure to clarify the circumstances he would weigh in the balance in deciding whether to prosecute or not. Debbie was represented by Saimo Chahal QC (Hon), David Pannick QC and Paul Bowen QC and her case resulted in a landmark victory.  The DPP was obliged to provide Guidance on the factors to be taken into account when prosecuting cases of assisted suicide.  The Guidance is found here. The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, has said that Debbie’s role as a campaigner against the law on assisted suicide was ‘absolutely key’ and that she had transformed the debate.

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