Winchelsea widow gave ‘moving case’ in High Court embryo bid

Samantha Jefferies
Samantha Jefferies

The widow of a Falklands War veteran, who won her High Court bid to keep the embryos she and her late husband created, presented a ‘powerful and moving case’, one of the country’s top judges said.

Samantha Jefferies, 42, of Winchelsea Beach, won her legal fight last month for the right to have her late husband, Clive’s child.

Sir James Munby, who is President of the Family Division of the High Court, ruled in her favour and published his written ruling last Wednesday (October 12).

He said: “Samantha’s witness statements painted a vivid and compelling picture of Clive as a soldier and a man and as her partner and husband; of their life together; and of their journey seeking, with the assistance of the clinic, the children they so very much wanted.

“What Samantha said was powerful and moving. Her plea was simple: ‘I want my husband’s child’.”

Mrs Jefferies and 51-year-old Clive, who died two years ago, were undergoing fertility treatment when he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2014.

The couple had two rounds of IVF and were due to have one more.

Their embryos were being stored frozen at Sussex Downs Fertility Centre in Eastbourne. Mrs Jefferies was then told the embryos had to be destroyed because a two-year storage period had expired. This was despite the couple signing consent forms for 10 years of storage and posthumous use of embryos.

Mrs Jefferies said they were asked by the clinic to change it to two years, due to NHS funding limits. Fertility clinics can store embryos, sperm and eggs for up to 10 years. Sussex Downs Fertility Centre has since changed its policy and supported Mrs Jefferies’ application.

Her late husband, when he was aged 19, served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was on board the transport ship Sir Galahad when it was bombed in the Falklands in 1982, killing 48 men.

Sir James said: “Minutes before the attack he had been in a part of the ship where the first bomb exploded, killing many men.

“In the aftermath of the bombing he saved the life of a comrade who was in difficulties in the water.

“At his funeral, 32 years later, his commanding officer described his conduct on that fateful day as magnificent.”

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