Staffordshire daughter campaigns for assisted dying legalisation as inquiry launched in Parliament

Joy Munn is campaigning for the laws on assisted dying to change after her mum Mavis Eccleston endured a trial Credit: Handout

The first inquiry on assisted dying is being launched in the House of Commons after a campaign for a change in the law by a woman from Burton-on-Trent.

Joy Munns' mum, Mavis Eccleston, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter after surviving an attempt to end her own life, alongside her terminally ill husband Dennis in 2017.

The inquiry is being launched today by the Health and Social Care Select Committee where families, parliamentarians and campaigners are calling for a change in the law.

Ms Munns is urging MPs to not exclude the voices of terminally ill people and their loved ones from the process.

She said: "They need to involve the likes of the terminally ill people and their families and [...] they have to listen to the actual real stories and the people it affects.

"We're one step closer. But they need to not just listen, but hear us."

Dennis and Mavis Eccleston had been married for almost 60 years. Credit: Family handout

Ms Munns added: "My dad was terminally ill and diagnosed with bowel cancer.

"He decided that he didn't want to go into a home or hospice or any intervention - he wanted to die on his own terms and my mum wanted to die with him."

Joy's parents decided to take their own life, left a suicide note and when they were found, were rushed to hospital.

"My dad had a do not resuscitate sign on it - but mum survived."

She continued: "I got a call from the hospital saying mum was ready to be discharged.

"When I got there I was met by two nurses and a doctor who said there has been a development, that mum had agreed to murdering my dad and I just couldn't get my head around it.

"We all knew about the suicide pact. We'd even spoken about dignitas.

"The police came and I remember holding her tight in my arms and I was begging them not to take her, but they took her in her hospital gown and slippers - she was in a police cell for nearly 30 hours."

Eighteen months later, Mrs Eccleston was charged with murder and six months later was found not guilty.

Ms Munns added: "We'd lost our dad and normally you get to grieve and get the body back to bury him and we didn't get the body back for quite a while because it was a murder investigation.

"We couldn't have a funeral, we couldn't properly grieve and to this day we haven't properly grieved."

"I tried to shelter my mum and keep so much from her," she said, referring to the process with barristers and solicitors.

"I don't care what other people's beliefs are, I didn't want to send him up to heaven in pieces. It affected all of the family."

The Eccleston Family Credit: ITV News Central

What changes to the law are they looking for?

Joy says the law should allow assisted suicide under certain conditions of safeguarding and diagnosis. These include:

  • Safeguarding - The patient being mentally capable to make that decision

  • Diagnosed - Struggling with a terminal illness of six months or less, where two doctors and a high court judge must sign.

What is the current law?

Assisted dying is currently illegal in England and Wales under Section 2 of the Suicide Act.

Under the act, a person judged to have attempting suicide or assist suicide is liable for imprisonment for up to 14 years.