ON THIS DAY    19 November      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1992: Hillsborough victim allowed to die

Doctors treating Hillsborough victim Tony Bland can disconnect feeding tubes keeping him alive, a judge at the High Court in London has ruled.

The president of the Family Division, Sir Stephen Brown, said there was no "reasonable possibility" that after three years Mr Bland would emerge from a coma known as a "persistent vegetative state" or PVS.

Mr Bland's parents, Allan and Barbara, supported the doctors' court action and said they were "relieved" at the ruling.

Tony Bland, 22, suffered severe brain damage when he and hundreds of other football supporters were crushed in an overcrowded stand at Hillsborough stadium in April 1989.

Ninety-five fans died in the disaster.

In the High Court Mr Bland's doctors at Airedale General Hospital, near Keighley in Yorkshire and other experts in the field said he could survive for up to five years but he would never recover.

If food were withdrawn he would die within days.


"We believe this decision is unsafe and we will be using every legitimate means to oppose it"

Keith Davies, anti-euthanaisa spokesman

Sir Stephen ruled, for the first time in an English court, that artificial feeding through a tube is medical treatment and that to discontinue treatment would be in accordance with good medical practice.

The true cause of Mr Bland's death would be the Hillsborough disaster, Sir Stephen added.

But the lawyer appointed by the Official Solicitor to act on Mr Bland's behalf argued that to withdraw food from him would be tantamount to murder and said he would be appealing against the decision.

Doctors have agreed to continue feeding Mr Bland until after the appeal is heard on 30 November.

A spokesman for an anti-euthanasia group, Keith Davies, also announced its intention to contest the ruling.

Mr Davies from Life said: "We believe this decision is unsafe and unsatisfactory and we will be using every legal, legitimate and democratic means to oppose it."

In Context
The Official Solicitor appealed the ruling all the way to House of Lords but in February 1993 the Law Lords ruled in favour of Tony Bland's doctors.

His life support machine was switched off on 22 February and he died on 3 March.

In April 1994 the High Court rejected an attempt by a pro-life campaigner, Father James Morrow, to get the doctor who withdrew food and drugs from Tony Bland charged with murder.

Up to October 2000 there had been 18 cases brought before the English and Welsh courts by doctors or relatives asking to withdraw food or water from comatose patients.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |