On 23 February 2022, the Supreme Court granted permission to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Jacqueline Maguire v HM Senior Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde.
The Court of Appeal had previously upheld the High Court decision that Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was not engaged in the case of Jacqueline – known to her family as Jackie. Jackie was a vulnerable woman with Down’s syndrome, learning disabilities and behavioural difficulties, who tragically died whilst living in residential care in 2017.
The Supreme Court will now consider whether Article 2 ECHR extends to those that are vulnerable and lack the mental capacity to make decisions regarding their care and treatment, who are dependent on others to act in their best interests. This is not only highly significant in terms of Jackie’s case, but also for other vulnerable adults, who are looked after in care homes and receive poor medical care.
Muriel Maguire, Jackie’s mother commented:
I wish to thank the Supreme Court for granting permission to appeal in Jackie’s case. This is not just about Jackie anymore but all vulnerable people that do not have a voice. It has taken a long time to get to this stage. I hope Jackie’s case will lead to greater protection for the most vulnerable in society, who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves and rely on others to act in their best interest. All that I want for Jackie is justice and accountability following her death and lessons to be learnt for the future.
Jackie’s mother is represented by partner Anna Thwaites and solicitor Joanna Bennett of Bindmans LLP, with Counsel Jenni Richards QC and Nicola Kohn from 39 Essex Chambers.
Jackie lacked mental capacity to make everyday decisions affecting her living arrangements, healthcare, and welfare, and had therefore lived in a residential care home in Lytham St Anne’s near Blackpool since 1993. She was subject to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, required one-to-one support, and was not allowed to leave the care home unattended.
Jackie was only 52 years old when she sadly died from a perforated stomach ulcer in hospital on 22 February 2017. In the week prior to her death, she had complained of a sore throat and had a limited appetite, and in the following days, she suffered from multiple symptoms including vomiting, fainting and fitting. There was a catalogue of failures to provide basic medical attention by those responsible for Jackie’s care before her death.
- An inquest into Jackie’s death before HM Coroner for Blackpool & Fylde and jury took place between 20 June and 2 July 2018. Initially, it proceeded on the basis that Article 2 ECHR (right to life) was engaged, which meant the inquest had to consider how and in what circumstances Jackie died. However, at the conclusion of the evidence and prior to the coroner’s summing up to the jury, the coroner ruled that Article 2 ECHR was no longer engaged following the case of R (Parkinson) v HM Senior Coroner for Kent  EWHC 1501 (Admin). The coroner reached this conclusion on the basis that the allegations against Jackie’s carers and health provider amounted to allegations of individual negligence, which Parkinson clarified fell outside the scope of Article 2 ECHR. As a result, the jury was only allowed to consider how Jackie came by her death, rather than how and in what circumstances she died: a wider concept. The jury concluded that Jackie died of natural causes and recorded a short narrative conclusion.
- Jackie’s mother, Muriel Maguire, brought a judicial review on the ground that the coroner was wrong to conclude that Article 2 did not apply in Jackie’s case, and neglect should have been left to the jury. The hearing took place before Irwin LJ, Farbey J and HHJ Lucraft QC, who was the Chief Coroner for England and Wales (2016-2020). Judgment was formally handed down by the Divisional Court on 15 May 2019. The application for judicial review was dismissed.
- Muriel Maguire appealed to the Court of Appeal. The hearing took place on 4-5 February 2020 before Rt Hon the Lord Burnett of Maldon, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Rt Hon Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals and the Rt Hon Nicola Davies J, DBE. Judgment was formally handed down on 10 June 2020 dismissing the appeal.
- An application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court was lodged on 5 February 2021 after the necessary funding had been secured from the Legal Aid Agency. The grounds of appeal are summarised below:
- The Court erred in following Dumpe v Latvia
- The Court erred in limiting the scope of Lopes de Sousa v Portugal
- The Court was wrong to determine that the conclusion in Rabone flowed naturally from the Strasbourg jurisprudence in a manner that Jackie’s case did not
Lord Reed, Lord Hamblen and Lord Stephens granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on 23 February 2022.