Friends at the End Announces Support for New Legal Challenge

Friends at the End is supporting a new legal challenge, launched by Phil Newby, to change assisted dying laws for those with long-term degenerative conditions.

Phil Newby was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2014 at the age of 43, and since then has battled against the odds of his prognosis, which had given him just 2-3 years to live. Despite his resilience, Phil’s condition is slowly deteriorating; over the last five years he has gradually lost the use of his arms and can no longer walk. Unfortunately, his standard of living will only get worse.

Phil is an ardent lover of life and enjoys supporting and spending time with his wife and two daughters. It is this love of life and family that has driven Phil to seek to change the law on assisted dying. As the law currently stands, Phil will be forced to slowly lose his freedom and enter into a life of suffering, no longer able to do the things he once loved. Rather than have the end of his life punctuated by suffering and indignity, he wants the right to choose the time and circumstances of his death- to die peacefully, surrounded by family.

Phil is looking to raise £20,000 to cover the initial costs of his legal challenge, which seeks to change the law to give individuals with terminal long-term degenerative conditions access to assisted dying. Phil has brought together a highly skilled legal team and will be represented by Saimo Chahal QC (Hon), a partner at Bindmans LLP, and counsel Paul Bowen QC of Brick Court Chambers, who, together, have a wealth of experience with assisted dying cases. Having learnt much from previous cases the legal team will be approaching Phil’s case from a new angle and hope to carefully dismantle the Government’s former objections.

Friends at the Ends is proud to announce that it will donate £500 towards Phil’s legal fees. It is time for a compassionate and dignified approach to assisted dying. We hope that Phil’s case will provide a legal basis for assisted dying, and that a full and fair treatment of the facts in a court of law will put to rest some of the mischaracterisation that has marred much of the assisted dying debate.

Over 80% of the public support assisted dying and the law needs to change to reflect the views of those who are governed by it. Cases like Phil’s highlight the indignity of the current situation; no one with a degenerative condition should be forced, by law, to suffer. It is only right that we put our full support behind his case and make life more tolerable for those in the most challenging of circumstances.

You can support Phil’s case through his CrowdJustice fundraising page.

Conversations about Death and Dying Report

We held a very successful conference at the start of September. Speakers included Dr Naomi Richards, Dr Lonny Shavelson, Professor Celia Kitzinger, Adrian Ward and Mark Hazelwood. Copies of presentations can be found below.

Ahead of the conference Dr Shavelson spoke with BBC Radio Scotland. You can listen again to this here.

The conference was chaired by Rev Scott Mckenna who opened the conference by talking about assisted dying within a religious context. The Rev McKenna also spoke about the need for compassion at the end of life and that the move away from a paternalistic approach means we need to listen to each other about our wishes to ensure we have a good death.

Those who attended the conference heard about how Medical Aid in Dying worked in California, about the need for Advance Directives and what Incapacity means in Scottish Law.

C Kitzinger Presentation

A Ward Presentation

S Paul Presentation

N Richards Presentation

J Ramsey Presentation

D Grenham Presentation

L Shavelson Presentation

Friends at the End Mourns the Death of Omid T

It is with great sadness that we hear of Omid’s death at the Lifecircle assisted dying clinic in Switzerland today.  Omid T was awaiting judgment from the High Court on his legal challenge seeking a change in the law on assisted dying,  challenge which was supported by Friends at the End.

Whilst a relief to know that Omid is finally at peace and that he died on his own terms, the frustration and injustice of his death in Switzerland is profound.
Omid, who our CEO Amanda Ward met on a number of occasions was witty, funny, charming and friendly to everyone he came across. He was also a very sick and profoundly disabled man, who should not have had to leave his home, the UK, to travel abroad to get the relief he so craved.
We are convinced that if our politicians experienced the pain and suffering Omid, his family, and the hundreds of others who have travelled abroad for a peaceful death have had to endure, they’d not want that for themselves or any of our citizens.
We are past the point of turning a blind eye – elected representatives must listen to their constituents, the overwhelming majority of whom support a safe controlled UK assisted dying law and act now.
Omid was a kind, compassionate, charming character – he’d already been through so much with his illness and he deserved better than having to take matters in to his own hands.