Dignity in Dying responds to the news of the death of Ron Hogg, former Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham

Posted On: 
17th December 2019

In September 2019 Ron Hogg announced he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and called for a change in the law on assisted dying.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:

“We are saddened to hear of Ron’s death and we extend our sincere condolences to Ron’s family, friends and colleagues.

“Ron used his final months, as his health was rapidly deteriorating, to call for a change in the law on assisted dying. His decision to speak out encouraged 17 of his fellow police and crime commissioners to publicly address the Justice Secretary, who agreed to meet Ron to discuss their serious concerns regarding the safety and implementation of the current law. Unfortunately this meeting was not possible, first because of the General Election and then because of Ron’s failing health. We hope the Justice Secretary will honour this commitment and will agree to meet with Ron’s friend and colleague, Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.

“Ron’s sincere request to MPs was that they listen to the voices of dying people, of police officers, and of bereaved family members who have been caught up in our cruel, outdated laws on assisted dying. Sadly Ron was not able to live to see the change he campaigned so passionately for. A better, kinder and safer law is long overdue. Other countries – the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – have shown it is not just possible, but the right and necessary thing to do.”

In September 2019 Ron announced in The Guardian that he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease the previous month, and called for a change in the law on assisted dying.

In October Ron wrote to the Justice Secretary alongside 17 fellow Police and Crime Commissioners calling for an inquiry into the impact of the current law. Ron also wrote in The Times about his severe misgivings with the UK’s blanket ban on the practice:

“All police officers will know that sometimes making something illegal does more harm than good; rather than eliminating that activity, it drives it underground. Instead of allowing safeguards to control it, the blanket ban on assisted dying ensures that people take the law into their hands behind closed doors, with no possibility of preventing abuse until it’s too late. It leads to police and prosecutors expending their efforts on the victims of the law — the bereaved families left behind. Our already stretched police resources should not be spent investigating crimes that rarely reach court, and if they do, lead to an acquittal; crimes that present investigators with several operational challenges; crimes that arguably should not be on the statute book.”

A number of cross-party MPs echoed the police and crime commissioners’ calls for an inquiry in a letter to The Guardian in October.

Ron’s death was announced on Tuesday 17 December 2019.