Category: Gilderdale case

Telegraph: Letters to the Editor: Breaking the ME enigma (jointly signed by ME spokespersons)

Telegraph: Letters to the Editor: Breaking the ME enigma (jointly signed by ME spokespersons)


Telegraph  |  06 February 2010

Breaking the ME enigma

SIR – The death of Lynn Gilderdale and the humane verdict in the trial of her mother brought home to many people for the first time what a devastating illness myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) can be.

Many of the estimated quarter of a million people with ME in Britain experience not only extreme pain and disability, but also incomprehension, ignorance, lack of sympathy and at times outright hostility, not only from the public but also from professionals responsible for their care.

Such lack of understanding even extends to blaming parents for the severity of their child’s illness.

It is time the nation began to take ME seriously. Provision of adequate clinical and other services by properly informed and sympathetic professionals is currently subject to a postcode lottery. Such provision should avoid inappropriate treatments, and range from support for home tuition for school-age children to respite care for the severely affected.

Above all, we should fund biomedical research to resolve the enigma of the underlying pathology of this illness. We should build on recent scientific advances to develop effective treatments, so that no one in future need experience the pain, isolation and despair that were Lynn Gilderdale’s fate.

Countess of Mar
Secretary, All Party Parliamentary Group on ME
Dr Neil Abbot
Operations Director, ME Research UK
Jane Colby
Executive Director, The Young ME Sufferers Trust
Anne Faulkner
Hon Director, CFS Research Foundation
Tanya Harrison
Chairman, BRAME
Malcolm Hooper
Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Sunderland
Andy Kerr MSP
Dr Jonathan Kerr
Consultant Senior Lecturer, St George’s, University of London
Simon Lawrence
Chairman, 25 per cent ME Group
Kathleen McCall
Chairman, Invest in ME
Dr Luis Nacul
Consultant in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Professor
Derek Pheby
National ME/CFS Observatory
Neil Riley
Chairman, ME Association
Dr Charles Shepherd
Dr Nigel Speight
Sir Peter Spencer
Chief Executive Officer, Action for ME
Des Turner MP
Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group on ME
Dr William Weir
Mary-Jane Willows
Chief Executive Officer, Association of Young People with ME
Andrew Stunell MP
Vice Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group for ME

BBC accused of ‘promoting euthanasia by ignoring rights of disabled’

BBC accused of ‘promoting euthanasia by ignoring rights of disabled’


Telegraph  |  05 February 2010

BBC accused of ‘promoting euthanasia by ignoring rights of disabled’

The BBC has been accused of promoting euthanasia by a cross-party group of MPs who called on ministers to threaten to cut off the supply of public money to the broadcaster.

A Commons motion highlighted the high profile given by the BBC to author Sir Terry Pratchett’s speech in favour of assisted suicide Photo: BBC

A Commons motion said the Corporation ”misused public funds” in its coverage of the issue, highlighting the high profile given to author Sir Terry Pratchett’s speech this week in favour of assisted suicide.

The motion claimed the BBC ”ignored the rights of the disabled” and had used drama as well as news to promote its pro-euthanasia stance.

Tory Ann Winterton (Congleton) has the support of one Tory and four Labour MPs for her early day motion…

Read on here Telegraph 

Guardian  |  4 February 2010

‘Kay Gilderdale should have been investigated’

In cases of assisted dying, anyone involved should have to account for their actions, says Phil Friend

Like a lot of other people I watched Panorama on Monday evening which focused on the subject of assisted dying. The central issue concerned whether Kay Gilderdale should have been prosecuted for assisting her daughter Lynn to die…

Read on here Guardian

Times: ME coverage 30 January 10

Media coverage 30 January 10


Update @ 31 January

News of the World  |  Carole Malone  |  31 January 2010

Mother’s courage betrayed by law

BBC News: Poll ‘support for mercy killings’:

There will be a ‘Panorama’ special on the Kay Gilderdale case tomorrow, Monday, 1 February.


I Helped My Daughter Die


BBC One  |  Monday, 1 Feb 2010  20:30

Next on:  |  BBC News Channel  |  Thursday 4 Feb 2010  04:30


What drives a mother to help her child die? For almost a year, Panorama cameras have been following Kay Gilderdale – the woman at the centre of the recent Assisted Suicide trial – as she faced a possible life sentence over her part in the death of her daughter Lynn.

She talks exclusively to Jeremy Vine about the night she helped her bedridden daughter kill herself and explores whether the law should be changed with those on both sides of the debate, including Debbie Purdey and Baroness Campbell.

Update @ 31 January

Daily Mail  |  Anne Atkins  |  31 January 2010

ANNE ATKINS: I know the curse of ME well but I’m sorry, it was wrong to let Lynn die

Times  |  Dr Martyn Lobley: Commentary  |  30 January 2010

‘ME is a diagnosis only reached by excluding other possibilities’

Dr Martyn Lobley is a GP in southeast London


Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and the legal case are identified by the image above and archived in Categories under Gilderdale case. ME agenda is unable to respond to enquiries in connection with the case from members of the public or the media.

TimesSteve Bird  |  3o January 2010

They told dying daughter she was lying, says ME mother Criona Wilson

As Criona Wilson knelt beside her dying daughter’s bedside, she promised her that her death would not be in vain. Before the frail body of 32-year-old Sophia finally succumbed to the medical complications and ravages of ME, she replied in a whisper: “Then it’s all worth it.”

In the years that followed, Mrs Wilson, 66, a former midwife, dedicated her life to proving that her daughter’s condition was not a figment of imagination, nor one that merited her youngest child’s incarceration in a mental hospital.

Her battle saw her take on the medical profession and accepted thinking about the diagnosis and treatment of ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Eventually, in 2006, a coroner ruled that Sophia’s death was the result of myalgic encephalomyelitis — the first such ruling at an English inquest.

The fierce debate over ME has been highlighted once again by the case of Kay Gilderdale, who admitted assisting her daughter, Lynn, to kill herself after suffering from ME for 17 years. When she walked free from Lewes Crown Court on Monday, having been cleared of murder, Mrs Wilson was among those cheering her from the public gallery.

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“I had to be there,” said Mrs Wilson yesterday. “It was such an important case. And the verdict was a vote for common sense in a trial that highlighted what people suffering ME and their carers have to face.”

Her daughter, Sophia Mirza, was a talented and popular arts graduate living with her mother in Brighton in 1999 when she contracted ME at the age of 25. She became confined to her bedroom and, just as Miss Gilderdale had, needed round-the-clock care.

In 2003 she was visited by a psychiatrist, even though Miss Mirza complained only of physical discomfort. The psychiatrist told her that she was making up her symptoms and if she continued to pretend to be ill he would section her under the Mental Health Act. Mrs Wilson said: “I knew my daughter. There was no way she was mentally ill or pretending.”

When the dread knock on her door finally came in 2003, there was little she could do. A policeman forced the door open and the psychiatrist and a social worker locked themselves into Miss Mirza’s room to prepare her for her trip to a psychiatric ward.

Her condition took a dramatic turn for the worse. After 13 days she was released and taken back to the care of her mother. “That spell in a mental hospital set her back terribly. We lost all faith in medical professionals. We were alone,” said Mrs Wilson.

In 2005 Miss Mirza could barely muster the energy to speak, eat or drink. She and her mother had already agreed that no doctors should be called in case she would be sectioned again. On November 25, 2005, Miss Mirza died in her bed at home.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Mrs Wilson said: “We did everything we could.” Determined to get to the bottom of why her daughter’s treatment had been so bad, she got hold of her medical records. After being contacted by the 25 Per Cent ME Group, which campaigns for those with the most acute form of ME, she agreed to her daughter’s body being examined.

At the inquest the next year a neuropathologist told the court that Miss Mirza’s spinal cord was inflamed and three quarters of her sensory cells had abnormalities. It was, the court heard, a clear physical manifestation of ME. The coroner ruled that she had died from “acute renal failures as a result of chronic fatigue syndrome”.

A year later, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued its first guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of the illness, describing it as “relatively common”, affecting up to 193,000 people in Britain. At the heart of that guidance is the need to take into account the opinions of the patients.Mrs Wilson is campaigning to get the Government to fund research into ME. “It’s not over yet.”

Gilderdale ME legal case: Media coverage 26 January

Gilderdale ME legal case: Media coverage 26 January


It is understood that the case will feature in Panorama on Monday 01 February 2010.

Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and the legal case are identified by the image above and are archived in Categories under Gilderdale case

ME agenda is not able to respond to enquiries in connection with the case from members of the public or the media.

Independent  |  26 January 2010

Prosecuting suicide-death mother Kay Gilderdale ‘in public interest’


Times  |  26 January 2010

The entire front page of today’s Times is devoted to the Gilderdale case with a double page spread on pages 7 and 8.

Video on this Times page

Jeremy Vine  Radio 2

BBC Northampton

Humberside Radio

Times  |  26 January 2010

26 January 2010

Devoted mother Kay Gilderdale should never have been prosecuted, says judge

A High Court judge has criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions for personally pursuing an attempted murder charge against a “selfless and devoted” mother who helped her acutely ill daughter fulfil her wish to die.

As Kay Gilderdale, pictured right with her daughter, walked free from court yesterday after being cleared unanimously of attempted murder, the trial judge, Mr Justice Bean, repeatedly questioned whether the emotive case had been in the public interest.

Last night, the 55-year-old mother of two spoke for the first time of how her heart had been “ripped apart” between her maternal instinct to save her daughter Lynn, 31, and respect her repeated pleas for help to end 17 years of suffering since she contracted ME.

The former nurse had admitted assisting her daughter’s suicide by giving her 420mg of morphine to inject herself in December 2008.

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ME: a debilitating illness with no known cure

She was charged with attempted murder after it emerged that she had given Miss Gilderdale medicine to ease her suffering in her final hours.

Only now can it be revealed that during initial legal arguments Judge Richard Brown, who presided over the case before trial, invited the CPS to drop the attempted murder charge.

Referring to her guilty plea to assisted suicide, he asked: “Wouldn’t it be better to accept it now rather than let this defendant get tangled up in a messy trial for the sake of some legal mumbo jumbo?”

The case was reviewed by Keir Starmer, the DPP, after he published guidelines on assisted suicide last September, but the attempted murder charge was not dropped.

Mr Justice Bean’s decision to question Mr Starmer’s role and that of the Crown Prosecution Service will reignite the debate on mercy killings.

The judge thanked the jury for their “common sense, decency and humanity” in choosing to acquit Mrs Gilderdale. Sources close to the family suggested that her trial was used as a test case to sound out public opinion. The CPS remained adamant that its decision to pursue the case was right, saying that the law did not allow mercy killings.

Mrs Gilderdale did not give evidence during the trial. Afterwards, she described the torment of trying to come to terms with a loved one’s repeated pleas to be allowed to die.

“You’re torn apart because you have one part of you wanting to respect your daughter’s wishes and understanding everything they have been through, and you have got your heart being ripped out at the same time because all you want to do is to get them better and keep them alive,” Mrs Gilderdale told the BBC Panorama programme.

“It has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced and will ever experience in my whole life, no matter what happens to me. There will be nothing that will compare to the pain and heartbreak of watching my beautiful daughter leave this world.”

The public gallery at Lewes Crown Court erupted into applause as the jury unanimously cleared Mrs Gilderdale of attempted murder after deliberating for less than two hours following a week-long trial.

Before sentencing her for assisting a suicide, the judge asked who decided to continue with the attempted murder charge. Sally Howes, QC, for the prosecution, replied: “Ultimately the decision was taken by the DPP in consultation in November last year.”

Asked whether it was thought to be in the public interest, she replied: “It was thought at the highest level that this was a case that should be canvassed before the jury.”

The judge released Mrs Gilderdale with a one-year conditional discharge. She replied quietly: “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Outside the court, Stephen Gilderdale 35, said that he was proud of his mother for her “selfless actions”.

The jury had been visibly moved by the account of two parents struggling to come to terms with the realisation that their daughter had lost the will to fight a debilitating condition.

Richard Gilderdale told how his daughter wanted to end her “wretched existence”. On December 2, 2008, he had sent his usual evening text messages to his ex-wife and daughter to see how a new treatment was going. In his final message to his daughter, he said: “Good night. Sleep well. I love you.”

In the early hours of the following day, Miss Gilderdale summoned her mother to her bedroom and pleaded with her to help her kill herself.

Lynn Gilderdale’s moving account of why she decided to end her life

OK guys, I have something really important to say. I want to talk about something extremely private and personal to share with you, my closest friends. After many years of serious deliberation, I have pretty much come to a huge decision. I hope you will try to understand my reasons for this decision and even if you don’t personally agree with it I hope you won’t judge me too harshly.

I don’t know how to begin. I am just going to come out with it. Here goes, deep breaths. Basically I think some of you have known for a while I have had enough of this miserable excuse for a life, of merely semi-existing for the last 16½ years. I have had enough and I want to die. This is no whim and certainly not just because of the reactive depression diagnosed a few months ago. I am no longer on antidepressants because they weren’t doing anything for me.

I really, really, really want to die and have had enough of being so sick and in so much pain every second of everyday and, basically, one serious health crisis after another. I am tired, so very, very tired and I just don’t think I can keep hanging on for that elusive illness-free existence.

I can’t keep hanging for that ever diminishing non-existent hope that one day I will be well again. This is something I have thought long and hard about, and more than once about. I’m sure it’s what I want. I have discussed and continued to discuss with my parents at great length. Although they obviously desperately don’t want me to go, they can see I have just had enough and understand why I can’t keep hanging on for much longer.

Related Links

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A few months ago, some pretty extreme situations arose. Something happened here and I was finally tipped over the edge. I tried to end my life by sticking a syringe straight down into my veins and simultaneously a syringe full of air. This was not a desperate cry for help, it was a serious attempt to end my life. It should have been enough to kill a grown man. No, it didn’t finish me off. Eventually, I have become tolerant to morphine after being on it for years.

All the overdose did was render me unconscious for a few hours until I finally felt Dad shaking me awake.

That was really the first time my parents knew how depressed I was. I had managed to hide it by using my time-worn, fake-happy face, when they are around. I begged my parents not to tell the doctor what I had done. But, I was put on antidepressants.

Drugs have stopped me from crying all the time, but it hasn’t stopped me from my desire not be on this planet any more. Nothing can change my mind. I have since promised I won’t try to kill myself again in secret.

Injecting morphine is the only reliable suicide method I have access to myself. There’s no other possible way to do it on my own.

Dad, he has always hated me talking about it in the past. He was quite heartbroken. He said: “I understand. But what would I do without my best mate?” This made me sob even harder than I already had.

After talking to me for ages, they both were extremely reluctant but agreed that if something life-threatening did happen to me they promised that they would inform the doctors and nurses that I didn’t want to be revived in any circumstances. I refuse to go back for more treatment.

I know there is a slim chance that I could fully recover and live a relatively normal life but even if I wake up tomorrow, I still won’t be able to live the life I dreamt about living.

My ovaries have packed up — I won’t be able to have children, my all time favourite wish.

I am already 31 years old. By the time I have found the man I want to have children with I will be far past the age. I cannot see myself ever being well enough to do any of this.

Also my bones are so osteoporotic that every cough and sneeze could cause a fracture. How can I live the life I have dreamed of; swimming, sailing, running, cycling. The kind of life I had before it was taken away from me at the age of 14.

My body is tired and my spirit is broken. I have had enough. Can you understand that? I hope you can, I really, really do.

In addition to not wanting any life-saving treatment, if I am ever presented with an opportunity to leave this world, I have to admit I will grab it with both hands.

I understand people think I am just depressed or worse — suicide is far from easy in my opinion and recent experience — or they think it is ridiculous of thinking of suicide when there is still a chance I could recover.

I am also painfully aware that I have a couple of special friends with their own terrible diseases.

I was 30 last year, the desire to leave all this pain and sadness behind me has nothing but increased. I want to die so, so much. Mum and I have probably spent hours on and off discussing everything, despite her doing her best to make me see things differently. My resolve to leave this life has done nothing but intensify.

I am sorry. I know this may be a shock to some of you. Try to put yourself in my situation. Read all the newspaper articles online. This is only a tiny part of what I have been through in the past 16 years.

To see what every second of life in intense pain, feeling permanently and extremely ill, not just lying in a bed resting but 100 per cent reliance on others to care for my basic needs. I have survived because of tubes of medicine, pumps and drugs. Without all this modern technology I wouldn’t be here.

Imagine you lived in one small room, in one single bed for 16 years since the age of 14. Imagine being 30 years old and never having kissed someone properly. Yep, I am that pathetic 30-year-old virgin that everyone ridicules.

Imagine having the painful bones of a 100-year-old woman unable to move without risking a fracture. Imagine being unable to get the spinning thoughts out of your head, other than by slowly typing e-mails.

Imagine not being able to turn yourself over in bed or move your legs.

Imagine having to use a bed pan lying down and having your mother wipe your bum for you.

Imagine having never been in a pub or club at 31 years old. Imagine never having been able to fulfil one thing above all else — that thing that should be a right for all young women, the right to have a young child. I know some women are unable to, but it doesn’t stop my heart from aching and the need to hold my own baby.

Imagine being imprisoned inside the miserable existence that is your life.

I don’t have to imagine of that. My body and mind is broken. I am so desperate to end the never-ending carousel of pain and sickness and suffering. I love my family. I have nothing left and I am spent.

How are Mum and Dad coping with all this? They are utterly, utterly heartbroken, naturally. Although I fear they won’t get over losing me and they don’t want me to go, and despite all the pain they must be in every time I discuss this whole thing, they must understand why I’ve had enough of this life and can’t keep hanging on. They both said they would either die or feel the same. I am so lucky to have incredible parents.

I desperately want to die. Mum and Dad know I have made up my mind.

They have made sure repeatedly that this is what I truly want. And now I’m not going to resist temptation if a way of ending my life falls into my lap.

Even though I can’t imagine how hard this must be for them, obviously they won’t want to lose me but they can’t bear for me to suffer any more than I have — that’s true unconditional love. I will never be able to thank them for putting my needs above theirs. However sad it is, it’s going to be my time to go very soon.

November 2008: I am afraid I can’t lie. I still do crave suicide with every fibre of my being. I promised my parents that I won’t attempt to do it in secret again. If the chance falls into my lap I will grab it with both hands. Mum regularly goes through everything with me. I never waver, I just become more and more sure as time passes. I have always stated that if I was unable to make a decision myself the power goes jointly to my parents. I trust them implicitly with my life and death. I know they won’t do the selfish thing in keeping me here purely for themselves.

Gilderdale case prompts fresh calls to clarify the law on assisted dying

Frances Gibb, Legal Editor

One devoted mother who helps her sick daughter to end her life with tablets and morphine walks free from court with a suspended sentence.

Another is jailed for murder, to serve a minimum of nine years, after injecting her brain-damaged son with a lethal dose of heroin.

The two contrasting cases have reignited the debate over “right to die” and whether those who assist a loved one to end their suffering should be subject to criminal law.

Both involved a loving parent who could not bear to see a child suffer. Both, therefore, were acts of mercy. But there were key differences: Frances Inglis’s son, Thomas, 22, who had brain damage, had never indicated an intention to die. His mother believed him to be in pain and could not accept an encouraging medical prognosis.

Kay Gilderdale’s daughter, Lynn, 31, had attempted suicide. She had considered it over time and contemplated going to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. When a first attempt at suicide failed, her mother set about trying to help her to end her life.

Last July Keir Starmer, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, outlined 16 “public interest factors” in favour of a prosecution and 13 factors against taking legal action in order to bring clarity to existing assisted suicide legislation.

Mrs Gilderdale was charged not just with attempted assisted suicide but also with attempted murder. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said that this was because the evidence suggested that her daughter may not have died from an assisted suicide. “It was not clear cut: there was a sequence of events and the toxicologist could not prove which of these stages resulted in death,” he said.

The case exposed the acute difficulties for prosecutors, judges and juries alike, and adds to the pressure for greater clarity in the law.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “Ultimately, the Government needs to review the law in this area. As this case highlights, at present the law is a mess.”

However, Peter Saunders, director of Care Not Killing, said that the law acted as a powerful deterrent to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse.

Judges should have a wide discretion to temper justice with mercy. Then they can show compassion in hard cases without giving a green light to murder.

BBC News

Lynn Gilderdale ‘mercy killing’ verdict leads papers

The acquittal of the Sussex nurse Kay Gilderdale – who was accused of murdering her severely ill daughter Lynn – is the lead in several papers.

A judge’s criticism of prosecutors for pursuing the case is the Times’ focus .

It also carries Lynn’s diary entry , in which she says she has “had enough of being so sick and in so much pain”.

The Daily Mail says the case was in “stark contrast” to that of Frances Inglis, jailed for fatally giving her son heroin – as Lynn wanted to die.



The Scotsman

London Standard


Lynn Gilderdale: how a 14-year-old was condemned to a life lived from a bed

At the age of 14, Lynn Gilderdale was the picture of health. Sporty, athletic, she excelled at ballet, pursued her love of horses with vigour and was an accomplished musician.

By Caroline Gammell Published: 7:00AM GMT 26 Jan 2010

Gilderdale on the Isle of Wight, aged 12 Photo: CAIRNS

She swam, she cycled, she played the clarinet and, like a typical teenager, enjoyed spending time with her friends.

But in November 1991, that life came shuddering to an end.

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She came home from Uplands School in Wadhurst, East Sussex, after a fairly ordinary day, which included a routine inoculation against tuberculosis, and felt unwell.

She never recovered.

Flu was followed by bronchitis, tonsillitis and glandular fever and within three months, her life had changed beyond all recognition.

The teenager lay confined to her bedroom, ME had left her unable to move her legs, swallow or eat. At her most severely ill, she could recognise no one.

She lost the power of speech and had to develop a sign language with her parents that they alone understood.

Her life became ruled by the tubes running down her nose, into her chest and inner thigh, the tubes that fed her and that were a constant reminder that she would never again live a normal life.

Her dreams of returning to the sport she loved, of kissing boys, even of being a mother were crushed one by one. Exchanged for a life reliant on a cocktail of drugs to dull her suffering. It was in her own words: “a miserable excuse for a life”.

At just 20 years old she went through the menopause further eroding her health and her bones became brittle and vulnerable to fracture.

Weeks of suffering turned to months turned to years, and her hopes that she would one day get better, that there would be a cure, were ground down by endless hospital visits and fitful sleep.

But as Miss Gilderdale steadily lost all belief that she would ever get better, there was one person constantly by her side.

At the age of 37, her mother Kay gave up all semblance of a normal life – her work in accounting, holidays and friends – to care round the clock for her daughter.

In 2002, her marriage to Miss Gilderdale’s father Richard collapsed after nearly 30 years, although he remained devoted to his daughter and on friendly terms with his former wife.

For nearly two decades, mother and daughter remained cocooned in their unassuming brick bungalow in the small village of Stonegate, East Sussex.

Visitors – save that of her father and her older brother Stephen – were rare and, in any event, unwelcome because of the noise and potential infection they could bring.

Every morning, her Irish-born mother greeted her in hushed tones, keeping the cotton curtains of her bedroom drawn, regardless of the weather outside because her daughter’s condition meant she could tolerate neither noise nor light.

Resting on a sheepskin rug spread over her sheets to try and prevent bedsores, she would call to her mother for her every need. She required help with the simplest of tasks, such as wanting to turn over in her own bed.

A trained auxiliary nurse, Mrs Gilderdale would come swiftly, responding to her daughter’s voice calling to her from the intercom set up between the bedroom and the sitting room.

They had set up the system to make her daughter feel part of the house. The four walls of her bedroom, cluttered with medical paraphernalia to keep her alive and soft toys to lift her spirits, was her only domain.

Her one concession to the outside world was her computer, with a keyboard small enough to rest on her legs and allow her to communicate with friends.

These were not conventional friends. Most of them she had never met but their lives were all ruined by illness as hers was and as part of an online community, they shared their suffering and found comfort with each other. It was to these people that she revealed her darkest thoughts in an online journal.

But the computer offered solace and happiness as well. She used it to buy presents for her virtual friends as well as family.

Shortly before she died, her father helped her book tickets to the musical Oliver! and a night in a hotel in London for her mother. It was her way of saying thank you for all she had done.

Miss Gilderdale knew only two other environments – the inside of an ambulance and hospital, where she would end up most winters because she was so prone to infection.

During her final hospital visit, she picked up not one but four infections, including one which led to the indignity of being forced to use a bedpan for hours at a time.

It was this constant illness that made life so intolerable. Miss Gilderdale decided she wanted to die and drew up a living will in which she said she feared “degeneration and indignity more than death”.

An attempt to take her own life in 2007 failed, as the morphine she injected was not enough. Her father found her, nearly unconscious, and shook her awake.

She talked to her parents about suicide and what it would mean but it hurt her. Talking to her father, a retired police officer with Sussex Constabulary, about ending her life made her sob. He told her he didn’t want to lose her. But they understood her depths of despair.

Mr Gilderdale, who broke down in tears during his time in the witness box, spoke fondly of his daughter’s good looks, her long dark hair framing her fragile, pale face. But even that had been taken away from her in the last months of her life as her face began to swell.

On the morning of December 3, 2008, she decided she had had enough. Dressed in blue and white checked pyjamas, she called to her mother at 1.45am and told her she could not go on. Mrs Gilderdale tried to persuade her daughter otherwise but failed and at 3am she gave her daughter two large doses of morphine, with which she injected herself.

Miss Gilderdale thought the drug would bring her peace.

For her mother, the ordeal which would see her in court 13 months later, had only just begun. Over the next 30 hours, she neither slept nor ate, tending to her daughter as she clung on to life.

Scouring the internet for information, she gave Miss Gilderdale sleeping pills, antidepressants and further doses of morphine to try and make her comfortable. By 7.10am on December 4, her daughter was dead, aged 31.

She had kept everyone away from the house and when her daughter finally slipped away, an exhausted Mrs Gilderdale finally contacted the world outside.

She sent a text to Lynn’s father. It read: “Please can you come now. Be careful. Don’t rush.”

Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and the legal case are identified by the image and are archived in Categories under Gilderdale case

Kay (Kathleen) Gilderdale cleared of attempting to murder daughter with ME

Kay Gilderdale cleared of attempting to murder daughter with ME


It is understood that the case will feature in Panorama on Monday 01 February 2010.

Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and the legal case are identified by the image above and are archived in Categories under Gilderdale case

ME agenda is not able to respond to enquiries in connection with the case from members of the public or the media.

Times Online  |  25 January 2010


Kay Gilderdale cleared of attempting to murder daughter with ME


The decision to charge one of the leading ME campaigners with the attempted murder of her daughter, who had featured in newspaper articles to try to raise public awareness about the condition, was inevitably controversial.

Only now can it be revealed that two judges pondered the merits of extra charges brought by the CPS during lengthy legal arguments.

First, Judge Richard Brown invited the lawyers to drop two charges in light of Mrs Gilderdale’s guilty plea, adding that he felt a trial would “not be in the public interest”.

Referring to her guilty plea to assisting attempted suicide, he said: “It is a serious charge that appears to address exactly what happened.

“Wouldn’t it be better to accept it now rather than let this defendant get tangled up in a messy trial for the sake of some legal mumbo-jumbo?”

The subsequent trial judge, Mr Justice Bean, then ruled that the charge of aiding and abetting an “attempted” suicide be dropped as it was “technical to a baffling extent.”

Even after the first day of the case, the jury was bewildered by the attempted murder charge — the only remaining charge — and sent a note asking for clarification.

The prosecution told the jury that if they decided she had intended to try to murder her daughter once her suicide attempt with the morphine appeared to have failed, then she was guilty. It also did not matter whether Miss Gilderdale was going to die from the morphine she had injected herself, if her mother attempted to kill her with yet more drugs, that may or may not have worked, she was guilty in law, they were told.

Full article here

See also, today:

(Mentions APPG on ME report into service provision.)

See also, today:





See also earlier reporting:

Click on orange text “Latest Programme” to open BBC Media Player

Court told how ME sufferer was sexually assaulted (Kent and Sussex Courier, 22 January 2010)

Mother ‘tried to ease pain of ME daughter’, court told (Daily Telegraph, 23 January 2010)

Mention of Kay in other current stories:

Mercy killing mum Frances Inglis tells of how she would have faced the death penalty to stop her son’s suffering (Dail Mirror, 23 January 2010)

here: /

Final paragraph:

A jury was told yesterday [Friday 22 January 2010] mum Kay Gilderdale “crossed the line” between trying to help her desperately ill daughter commit suicide and trying to kill her. Gilderdale, 55, of Stonegate, East Sussex, denies attempted murder.

Times: ‘Doctors, school, friends thought I was faking chronic fatigue syndrome’ 25 Jan 09

Times section Times2 Health: ‘Doctors, school, friends thought I was faking chronic fatigue syndrome’


[The right hand side of this double spread, which includes a large photo of Ms Warner, sits alongside a Dr Mark Porter piece on euthanasia and the recent Inglis legal case.]


January 25, 2010

‘Doctors, school, friends thought I was faking chronic fatigue syndrome’

As the trial of Kay Gilderdale puts ME back in the spotlight, we ask why more is not being done to help sufferers

It says a lot about the public perception of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) that it is a surprise to find that Nicola Warner is lively, positive and talks a lot. That’s the initial impression anyway. It’s only when you spend a little time in her company that you notice a certain stillness or perhaps sadness in her face and it becomes obvious that she is not entirely well.

Nicola, now 27, was 12 when she became ill with glandular fever. A year later, having been bedridden for eight months, she was told by a paediatrician that she had ME. He gave her a factsheet that terrified her, she says. “It described my symptoms, the pain in my joints and my muscles, the overwhelming fatigue, dizzy spells, nausea, migraines, memory loss…I wanted to go back to school to be with my friends.”

On her first day back Nicola collapsed and had to be carried out of the lesson. That was her last day at school. The GP told her parents that if she didn’t get out of bed she would become paralysed. Every morning her mum helped her to walk the few steps from her bed to the bathroom in the family’s home in Theydon Bois, Essex. The first time, she took three hours.

“I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t read or watch television, couldn’t have a conversation. So I couldn’t see my friends,” Nicola says. “It was incredibly lonely. Some people thought I was faking it — neighbours, friends, school, doctors. I wasn’t making it up, I wasn’t being lazy though I was isolated and depressed. It wasn’t a mental thing but because I wasn’t leading a normal life there were mental issues surrounding it.”

In recent days the trial of Kay Gilderdale, who has admitted assisting the suicide of her daughter, Lynn, an ME sufferer, but denies attempted murder, has raised the profile of the condition that has no known cause, no diagnostic test, no cure and few treatments. It is estimated that 250,000 people suffer from it in the UK, almost three times the number who have multiple sclerosis.

As Nicola discovered, ME has long been the butt of scepticism and it was only in 2002 that Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, recognised it as a clinical condition. The Medical Research Council endorsed the view in 2003, the following year the Government allocated £8.5 million to develop 12 specialist centres across England and in 2007 NICE produced assessment and treatment guidelines.

Even so it has been hard to shift the suspicion that the condition is a malingerers’ charter and that it has a psychological basis, a proposition fiercely resisted over the years by vociferous campaigners. In the past their arguments were often emotional but today ME charities are more likely to refer the media to a relevant professional.

The ME community remains frustrated by studies that show that as many as 50 per cent of GPs don’t recognise the condition. Such is the hostility engendered by the debate that medical professionals who view ME as a psychiatric disorder declined to contribute to this article. “My views are too controversial to publish,” says one who believes that many patients develop ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), in the context of work-related stress.

“It’s like a battlefield,” says Dr Neil Abbot, operations director of ME Research UK. He describes the lot of the ME patient as a “Kafkaesque nightmare”. “There isn’t any education on the illness in medical schools and the GP hasn’t got anywhere to go [for information].”

The scientific literature remains small: 2,500 articles over the past ten years compared with 20,000 for MS. What do we know about the condition? “It depends on what you mean by know,” Abbot replies. “There are thousands of individuals who are definitely ill. They think they have a physical illness and most of their families do too. Some are put in a box called ME/CFS, many aren’t diagnosed. The treatments on offer are psychologically based, such as cognitive behaviour therapy and graded exercise. They help some individuals to cope with the symptoms but they aren’t the answer. Our aim is to make people recognise that there is a biomedical problem to be addressed.”

Abbot estimates that a quarter of ME sufferers are housebound and some bedbound. Sue Waddle, a magistrate from Hampshire, looks after her daughter, Lauren, who became ill when she was 12 and has been “virtually bedbound” since she was 16. She is now 24, remains in pain, sensitive to noise and light, and leads an isolated life. “Her GP has prescribed different treatments as different parts of her body have failed,” says her mother. “We’ve had sympathy in the most part but I think doctors are frightened that you’re going to demand something they can’t give. Her quality of life is dreadful and, although it’s difficult to say, I can’t see her living a normal lifespan.”

Waddle is excited by last year’s Nevada study that linked the XMRV retrovirus to ME, even though this month a study by King’s and Imperial Colleges found no link. More trials are needed, and the Medical Research Council says that two or three further studies will be completed within three months, though it is possible that the virus is not causative but a passenger.

“If this link could be confirmed maybe there would be a treatment that would give my daughter a better quality of life,” Waddle says. “If I was a doctor or a scientist I would be asking what was wrong with Lynn Gilderdale and why was she allowed to rot in her room for 17 years without anyone being able to do anything about it? People who are severely affected by ME are terribly neglected.”

The ME community’s wish-list is summed up by Dr Charles Shepherd, the medical director of the ME Association. First, there is a need to find out how many people have the condition, because only then can their clinical abnormalities be assessed and effective health services planned. Second, there is a need for research, in particular into muscle abnormalities, the role of the immune response to infection, and the extent that common neural pathways are involved in chronic fatigue in ME and other illnesses such as Parkinson’s and MS. Third, there is a need for trials of potential treatments.

Shepherd points out that the impasse that surrounds ME is partly caused by the difficulty in defining it. “This is an illness that cuts across medical boundaries: immunology, endocrinology, neurology, muscle pathology, infection and gene expression. There is piecemeal research going on that is not taking account of the links that are probably there.”

Stephen Holgate, professor of immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton, chairs the Medical Research Council’s expert group on CFS/ME. “As a clinician who sees patients with this group of diseases I recognise there’s a real thing here, it’s not all psychiatric or psychological,” he says. “Unquestionably in some of these patients there are abnormalities and biochemical changes in the brain, the central nervous system, the spinal cord or the muscles. My personal view is that we’re not dealing with a single condition.”

In 2008-09 the MRC spent £728,000 on ME/CFS out of a total research budget of £704.2 million. The MRC is ready to commission more research on ME, he says, but the stigma and scepticism associated with the condition do not make it an attractive option for top quality scientists.

“The debate is so polarised that scientists are frightened to get involved,” says Holgate. “My aim is to get everyone round the table, so that instead of people throwing bricks at each other we can agree on the priorities, get some quality proposals written up and build confidence in the research community. The need for more research is urgent because what’s happening now is unacceptable for patients and it’s costing the Government a lot of money.”

Nicola Warner knows that her condition has limited her experience of independent living but, despite a relapse when she was 20 and periods when she has contemplated suicide, she holds on to her ambition of becoming an actress. With support from her GP, a local CFS team and Action for ME, she says that she is in control of her ME, “rather than it controlling me”. By limiting herself to achievable goals she has been stable for the past year and has written a novel. Her next goal is to get it published.

Action for ME     ME Research UK     ME Association

There is a comment section  Times

Bridget Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale Court case: Lewes Combined Court: Media coverage: 3

Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and the legal case are identified by the image above and are archived in Categories under Gilderdale case

ME agenda is not able to respond to enquiries in connection with the case from members of the public or the media.

Bridget Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale Court case: Lewes Combined Court: Media coverage: 3

Shortlink:           Gilderdale case archive on ME agenda

Dr Macintyre and the Gilderdale family discuss ME


Telegraph  |  20 January 2010

Mother researched suicide on Google before daughter’s death

Times  |  20 January 2010

Kay Gilderdale trawled net for euthanasia after daughter’s morphine overdose

Sussex Argus   |  20 January 2010

Mum accused of trying to kill ME sufferer daughter “had researched suicide methods”

Rye & Battle Observer  |  20 January 2010

Accused mother ‘researched suicide methods’

Yorkshire Evening Post  |  20 January 2010

Accused mother ‘researched suicide methods’

Readers may find these reports distressing

National News links

Times  |  Steve Bird  |  20 January 2009

Father of ME victim Lynn Gilderdale defends former wife

The father of a severely ill woman who killed herself after being given drugs by her mother today defended his former wife and insisted that she was not capable of murder.

Richard Gilderdale, a retired police officer, sobbed in court as he told how Kay Gilderdale had “protected him” from prosecution after their daughter, Lynn, 31, repeatedly told them that her life was too “wretched” and she wanted to die…

Read full article here

Sidney Morning Herald  |  Sandra Laville  |  20 January 2010 

LONDON: A ”devoted mother” who found her desperately ill daughter trying to kill herself spent 28 hours administering a cocktail of lethal drugs to her after failing to convince her to go on living, a court has heard.

Read full article here

London Evening Standard  | Paul Cheston Court Correspondent  | 19 January 2010 

Father: ME daughter was determined to end her life

Former police officer Richard Gilderdale said the illness had robbed his daughter of any quality of life. Describing her as his “best friend”, Mr Gilderdale said the cumulative effects of ME over the course of 17 years led her to describe her body as “broken”. He said that during those years he and his former wife, Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, known as Kay, gave unwavering support for their daughter right up until her death in December 2008.

Read full article here

Also Sun 18 January 2010


Click here for all previous coverage of the Gilderdale family’s case. The 24 postings are archived in reverse date order: Gilderdale case archive on ME agenda

Bridget Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale Court case: Media coverage: 2

Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and legal case are identified by the image above and are archived in Categories under Gilderdale case

ME agenda is not able to respond to enquiries in connection with the case from members of the public or the media.

Bridget Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale Court case: Lewes Combined Court: Media coverage: 2

Shortlink:       Gilderdale case archive on ME agenda

National News links

Readers may find these reports distressing

BBC News  |  18 January 2010

ME mother ‘helped daughter die’ with morphine syringes

A mother helped end the life of her bed-bound daughter by handing her two syringes of morphine, a court heard.

Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, 55, of Stonegate, East Sussex, is accused of the attempted murder of her 31-year-old daughter, Lynn on 4 December, 2008.

Lynn Gilderdale developed the debilitating illness ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) aged 14.

Mrs Gilderdale denies attempted murder at Lewes Crown Court but admits aiding and abetting suicide.

Miss Gilderdale’s illness left her bed-bound and unable to swallow, meaning she was fed through a tube.

Prosecutor Sally Howes QC told the court Mrs Gilderdale spoke to her daughter for about an hour, telling her it was “not the right time” but Miss Gilderdale insisted it was time for her “to go”.

Crushed tablets

She said at about 0300 GMT on 3 December Mrs Gilderdale gave her daughter two syringes of morphine, which Miss Gilderdale administered herself through an intravenous catheter directly into her vein.

Ms Howes said: “At about 6am, Kay felt that the morphine had not achieved Lynn’s aim of killing herself and so Kay searched the house for tablets.”


Lynn Gilderdale had suffered from ME for about 17 years

The court was told the tablets were crushed with a pestle and mortar and administered through a feeding tube in Miss Gilderdale’s nose.

Later at about 0200 GMT on 4 December, Mrs Gilderdale gave her daughter two or three doses of morphine directly into the intravenous catheter and later gave her three syringes of air.

Ms Howes said Mrs Gilderdale telephoned the assisted suicide organisation Exit in the hope of gaining further advice before giving Miss Gilderdale a further eight tablets.

Miss Gilderdale died at 0710 GMT. A post-mortem examination found that the cause of death was morphine toxicity.

Ms Howes said: “It is the prosecution’s case that when Mrs Gilderdale realised that the two large doses of morphine that she provided to Lynn, that Lynn self-administered to try to end her life… instead of then realising that her daughter’s suicide had gone horribly wrong, she then set about, over the next 30 hours, in performing actions which were designed with no other intention other than terminating her daughter’s life.

“The further morphine, the further cocktail of drugs, the injecting of air – all designed to terminate her daughter’s life. It wasn’t done to make her better, it was done to make sure she died.”

The case continues.

Guardian  |  18 January 2010

Mother in court over death of daughter with ME

Kay Gilderdale accused of handing over lethal dose of morphine to 31-year-old daughter Lynn…

Daily Mail  |  Daily Mail Reporter  |  18 January 2010

‘Devoted mother killed ME daughter with lethal drug cocktail and syringes of air’

A ‘caring and loving’ mother helped end her long-suffering daughter’s life by handing her a lethal dose of morphine and a cocktail of drugs, a court heard today.

Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, 55, was the full-time carer of 31-year-old Lynn who had suffered from myalgic encephalopathy – also known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome – for 17 years.

She passed two syringes filled with large doses of morphine to her daughter, who injected the pain-relieving medicine herself in a suicide bid at the family home…

Full report here here

Local News links

ME Association 

Heart Radio Sussex  |  14 January 2010

JURORS called up to hear the trial of a mother accused of attempting to murder her seriously ill daughter were given the option to step down if they had strong feelings about euthanasia.

Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, known as Kay, has admitted one count of aiding and abetting the suicide of her daughter Lynn, 31, who was effectively paralysed by myalgic encephalopathy – also known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome – for 17 years before her death on December 4, 2008.

Mrs Gilderdale, 55, of Stonegate, near Heathfield, East Sussex, denies attempted murder

Sitting at Lewes Crown Court, High Court judge Mr Justice Bean told potential jurors: “If you have such strong views on the subject of assisted suicide one way or the other, if you feel you can not give a true verdict on the evidence in this case and your name is one of those called today, say when you come forward and tell me about it.”

Of the first 12 names drawn randomly from the pool, one woman was released after speaking privately to the judge about personal circumstances which might affect her judgment in the case and a replacement was called up.

The jury was then dismissed and asked to return for the opening of the trial on Friday after legal argument. The case is expected to last at least two and a half weeks.

Mrs Gilderdale is on bail with conditions of residence and that she does not leave Europe.

Family and friends have supported her since her arrest and were in court on Tuesday.

Click here for all previous coverage of the Gilderdale family’s case. The 24 postings are archived in reverse date order: Gilderdale case archive on ME agenda

Concerns about Daily Mail “Is ME genuine illness” poll

Concerns about Daily Mail poll: “Do you think ME is a genuine illness”


Update @ 11 January: Mary Jane Willows, CEO,  AYME, wrote to me this afternoon to say that the Daily Mail poll has been taken off line but that AYME would, in any case, be making a complaint. I’d like to thank the Facebook protest site, Invest in ME, AYME and all those who had complained to the Editor of the Mail, who contacted the journalist Gill Swain (who had written two articles about Lynn Gilderdale for the Mail in 2006 and 2008), and who sent their concerns to the ME patient organisations. My position is that this poll should never have been launched in the first place and that participating in it (even with good intentions) was helping to legitimise the poll. The ME Association has also confirmed that they had contacted the Editor of the Mail.

Update @ 10 January: I am advised by Kathleen McCall, Chair, Invest in ME, that her organisation has now contacted the Editor of the Mail with their concerns. Hopefully, tomorrow, Sir Peter Spencer (CEO, Action for M.E.), Dr Charles Shepherd (ME Association) and our other national ME patient organisations will follow suit. 

I have written to the Editor of the Mail; journalist Gill Swain and to all UK national ME patient organisations.

Alex Bannister Managing Editor Daily Mail:  +44 (0)20 7938 6000

There is a Facebook Group opposing this poll (no connection with this site).

As sent to Co-Cure, today:

09 January 2010

We are told that the Daily Mail is running a poll at:

“Do you think ME is a genuine illness”

in connection with its article:

I have already left a brief comment on the Mail site reminding readers of the July 2006 Mail article on the Gilderdale family’s experiences of living with a severely affected young person with ME, by journalist Gill Swain, published several years before Lynn died in December 2008. [1]

Readers of Co-Cure may recall the outrage at a similar poll on the BMJ’s site on medics’ perceptions of  what they considered to be “real” and “non real” illnesses.

I know that I am not alone in my concerns that the Mail should think it appropriate to run such a poll.

I know that I am not alone in finding it disturbing that instead of lobbying the Mail to take this poll down, some members of the ME community are encouraging others to participate in it.

1] Daily Mail, 05 July 2006

Suzy Chapman

Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale 12 January court appearance: 1

Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale 12 January court appearance: 1


Postings on ME agenda site for media coverage of the death of Lynn Gilderdale and legal case are identified by the image above and are archived in Categories under Gilderdale case

Update: I am advised that the case is likely to be held Court room 1 at the Lewes Combined Court. Most likely heard from 10.00 am or 10.30 am but the times will not be confirmed until the day before.

Please check the court website page that lists court hearings, on 11 January, for timings:

Kathleen (Kay) Gilderdale, whose daughter Lynn died in December 2008, will be appearing at Lewes Crown Court on 12 January 2010.

Kay will be wearing a white carnation in her lapel and has requested that those attending the court do likewise to show solidarity.

ME agenda is not able to respond to enquiries about the case from members of the public or the media. Enquiries in relation to attending the court appearance on 12 January are best directed to Dr John Greensmith of ME Free For All but any information that becomes available will be published here.

Dr John H Greensmith
ME Free For All

Lynn’s experience of living with ME had been published by the Mail in 2006:

and also by the BBC in 2001: 

For many years, Lynn had been the “face” of the 25% ME Group

25% M.E. Group Statement 

Lynn Gilderdale


Kay Gilderdale Support Fund


Dr Macintyre and the Gilderdale family discuss ME

News at Ten 

Channel 4 news, 7pm

ITN news, 10pm

Click here for all previous coverage of the Gilderdale family’s case. The 24 postings are archived in reverse date order:

Gilderdale case archive on ME agenda