The wife of a Chalfont St Peter resident who chose to end his own life in Switzerland last year has challenged the Justice Secretary over the treatment of those left behind in assisted dying cases.
Ann Whaley, of Chalfont St Peter, is embarking on a campaign for better treatment of partners involved in assisted dying, such as herself, in a project being overseen by the organisation Dignity in Dying.
Ann’s husband Geoffrey died peacefully at Dignitas in Switzerland on February 7 last year, after he became terminally ill and decided to end his own life.
The Compassion is Not a Crime initiative is being taken to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland following a number of cases over recent years where the pain of bereaved partners has been exacerbated as a result of police investigations, even when the mechanics of granting an ill person their right to die has happened or will happen abroad.
In February last year, Ann was the subject of an anonymous tip-off regarding plans to accompany terminally ill husband Geoffrey to Dignitas in Switzerland, leading to her being questioned by police.
“Geoffrey had been by my side for over 50 years and I was determined to be by his until the very end, but in supporting his final wish to die with dignity, I became a criminal under British law,” she said. “It was utterly devastating to think that I might be arrested or that Geoffrey might be stopped from travelling.
“I hope the Justice Secretary listens to experiences like ours and conducts a much-needed review of our cruel, outdated assisted dying laws.”
In the end, they travelled to the continent where he passed away having battled motor neurone disease for several years, but Ann doesn’t want others to suffer the way they did.
“The right to die is something every person should have, and to criminalise someone for an act of love in supporting that person is wrong.”