Ruling due on naming woman who refused treatment after 'losing sparkle'


Journalists are waiting to hear whether they will be allowed to name a woman who died after being at the centre of Court of Protection litigation.

A judge heard argument from lawyers representing one of the woman's relatives and from lawyers representing journalists at a Court of Protection hearing in London in December.

Mr Justice Charles, the second most senior Court of Protection judge in England and Wales, is scheduled to publish a ruling on Monday.

The 50-year-old woman hit the headlines late in 2015 when she refused life-saving kidney treatment after saying she had lost her ''sparkle'' and did not want to grow old.

Hospital bosses had asked another judge to decide whether she had the mental capacity to make the decision to refuse treatment.

Mr Justice MacDonald concluded that she did after analysing evidence at a separate Court of Protection hearing in London.

He ruled that the woman's identity should not be made public while she was alive - although he said the London-based King's College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which asked for the ruling, could be named.

Lawyers representing one of the woman's daughters said she should remain anonymous in death, to protect relatives' rights to private and family life.

But a number of national newspapers argued that such a move would be wrong and an interference with freedom of expression.

Four media groups - Associated Newspapers, Times Newspapers, Independent News and Media and the Telegraph Media Group - had argued that journalists should be allowed to identify the woman now she had died.

Barrister Adam Wolanski, for the media companies, argued that the case raised public interest issues and said barring identification would infringe rights to freedom of expression.

He said the woman was dead and therefore had no ''subsisting reputational right''.

And he said circumstances had to be ''exceptional'' before a judge barred identification to protect the human rights of a dead person's children.

Barristers Richard Spearman QC, Vikram Sachdeva QC and Victoria Butler-Cole, who represented the interests of the woman's family, disagreed.

They said ''intensive media interest'' had already caused distress.

They said there was particular concern about the effect publication of the woman's identity would have on her youngest daughter - who was in her mid-teens.

And they said there was no public interest in the woman's name being revealed.

Court of Protection judges analyse issues relating to sick and vulnerable people who might lack the mental capacity to make decisions about treatment.