Responding to the decision on the case of PC Paul Briggs, Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Compassion in Dying, said:

“We welcome today’s decision, which should mean that Paul’s wishes can now be followed. However, we are saddened that Paul’s wife Lindsey and their family will now have to wait to find out whether there will be an appeal against this decision.

“Paul’s wishes – that he would not have wanted to be kept alive in a minimally conscious state – were clear to his loved ones. Yet tragically, as he had never recorded these in a legally binding way, Lindsey has been forced to fight in the courts in order to have Paul’s wishes respected and life-prolonging treatment withdrawn.

“Completing an Advance Decision allows you to express what medical treatments you would want to refuse in certain situations in case you lose mental capacity in future. Compassion in Dying can help people complete one for free – on 0800 999 2434 – giving you peace of mind that if the unexpected happens, your wishes will still be followed. Another way to plan ahead for your future care and treatment is by appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare, a trusted person who can make decisions on your behalf in case you become unable to.

“No one expects to have an accident or become unwell, but planning ahead now means that if tragedy does strike, our wishes will be followed and our loved ones will be spared the agony that Paul’s family have sadly had to endure.”

Compassion in Dying provides free Advance Decisions and support to plan ahead through our Information Line on 0800 999 2434 and www.mydecisions.org.uk.

***ENDS***

For more information please contact Ellie Ball, Media & Campaigns Officer at Compassion in Dying via ellie.ball@compassionindying.org.uk / 07725 433 025.

Notes to Editor

  • Paul Briggs, a 43 year old police officer and Gulf War veteran from Merseyside, was knocked off his motorbike in 2015, which resulted in a significant brain injury.
  • In November his family, including wife Lindsey Briggs, were at the Court of Protection in Manchester asking the court to withdraw his life-sustaining treatment.
  • Doctors have said that even in a best case scenario, PC Briggs would remain severely brain damaged. Mrs Briggs has told the court that her husband wouldn’t want to be kept alive and that ‘he would see it as torture, just as hell’.
  • Whilst the judge ruled that treatment could be withdrawn, in accordance with Paul’s wishes, the Official Solicitor is seeking permission to appeal against the decision.
  • Compassion in Dying is a national charity (no. 1120203) that aims to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their legal rights and choices. We are a leading provider of free Advance Decisions in the UK and we also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care. We provide free support for people to plan ahead for a time that they may lack capacity to make decisions about their treatment, including a Freephone information line 0800 999 2434 and a free website which allows members of the public to make a legally binding Advance Decision or Advance Statement, www.mydecisions.org.uk.