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Police Officer Dies With Dignity After Court Rules His Treatment Can Be Withdrawn

One of our Public Law Solicitors helped British Army veteran Paul Briggs die with dignity.

Paul served in the Gulf War and was then a dedicated police officer who lived an active life. He suffered multiple injuries, including a severe brain injury, in a motorcycle crash while working as a police officer in Merseyside. As a result of this devastating event he was hospitalised in a minimally conscious state for 17 months.

The Dispute

Paul faced the possibility of receiving treatment for up to nine years. However, he did not have the mental capacity to make decisions. He wasn’t able to voice his opinion about his care or communicate wishes and feelings to others.

His wife, other family and friends expressed wishes for doctors to end his treatment so that he could pass away with dignity. Knowing him well they said, given his current condition and prospect of spending nine more years barely conscious, it’s what he would have wanted. Medical staff at the hospital did not carry out their wishes.

How We Helped

We recognised how difficult it had been for Paul’s family. They firmly believed continuing Paul’s treatment was not in his best interests given his previously expressed wishes, injuries and current condition as a result of the crash. His wife Lindsey wanted to thank the team at Irwin Mitchell for “their expertise in guiding the family through the court process”.

Irwin Mitchell Solicitor Mathieu Culverhouse presented the High Court Judge in the Court of Protection key evidence, expert medical opinion and powerful words from the family. Advocacy organisation Empowerment Matters also got involved and supported the family through this difficult period.

The court ultimately agreed that it was in his best interest to stop Paul’s treatment. The judge decided it would be lawful for doctors to do so and for Paul to be moved to a hospice for palliative care in his final few weeks.

Shortly after the ruling, the family were told the Official Solicitor (who acts for people who are vulnerable because of their lack of mental capacity) may appeal the court’s decision. This news came just before Christmas in 2016, leaving Paul’s family uncertain about his future.

Luckily, the appeal was withdrawn shortly after and medical staff ended Paul’s treatment as per his family’s wishes. A month later in January 2017, Paul died from his injuries.

Lindsey, Paul’s wife, said:

"We will miss him more than words can express and the pain is immense, but we know he has no pain or suffering anymore and he is at peace."

If you or someone you love needs help looking after their affairs our court of protection lawyers can help. Visit our Court of Protection section for more information.

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