A HEARTBROKEN widow who was investigated by police for supporting her husband’s wish to die at Dignitas in Switzerland has called on the Justice Secretary to launch an inquiry into the impact of “cruel, outdated” laws.

Chalfont St Peter resident Ann Whaley was interviewed under caution in February 2019 after police were anonymously tipped off about of her plan to accompany her terminally ill husband Geoffrey, 80, to Dignitas.

Geoffrey was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, an incurable, terminal illness, in December 2016.

Now Ann, 77, and others who have been criminalised by the UK’s assisted dying laws are launching a new campaign, ‘Compassion is not a Crime’, urging the Ministry of Justice to announce a call for evidence on the functioning and impact of the current blanket ban on assisted dying.

Former Justice Secretary David Gauke expressed support for a call for evidence on assisted dying laws last year. This was backed by cross-party MPs in a Commons debate in July, during Justice Questions in October and in a joint letter later that month.

Ann said: “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.“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 I hope the Justice Secretary listens to experiences like ours and conducts a much-needed review of our cruel, outdated assisted dying laws.”

Compassion is Not a Crime is backed by colleagues of Ron Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham, who died of motor neurone disease in December 2019.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “Compassion should not be a crime, but under the UK’s blanket ban on assisted dying, it is. Not only are dying people denied the right to die on their own terms, forcing them to resort to drastic measures at home and abroad, but their family members are then criminalised for acts of love.“An inquiry would enable the views of those most affected to be heard - terminally ill people, their loved ones, the police and other public services. We call on the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, to launch a call for evidence as a matter of urgency. Our outdated assisted dying laws deserve to be scrutinised, not dying people or their loving families.”