War veteran's widow gave 'moving' case to have dead husband's baby, says judge
The widow of a Falklands War serviceman who took legal action because she wanted to use embryos created using his sperm presented a "powerful and moving" case, one of Britain's most senior judges has said.
Occupational therapist Samantha Jefferies, 42, of Winchelsea, East Sussex, last month won a High Court fight for the right to have her late husband Clive's child.
Sir James Munby, the judge who ruled in her favour, published a written ruling on the case on Wednesday and said Mrs Jefferies had "painted a vivid and compelling picture".
Mr and Mrs Jefferies had been undergoing fertility treatment, Sir James - the most senior family court judge in England and Wales - had heard.
In 2013 Mr Jefferies' sperm had been frozen.
Embryos created from Mr Jefferies' sperm and Mrs Jefferies' eggs had been produced.
In April 2014 the couple, who married in 2007, attended a clinic to plan a treatment cycle.
Less than three weeks later Mr Jefferies unexpectedly died of a brain haemorrhage at 51, the judge was told.
Staff at the Sussex Downs Fertility Centre, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, had then told Mrs Jefferies that the embryos could not be stored beyond August 2015.
Mrs Jeffries told Sir James that in 2013 her late husband had given his consent to embryos being stored for 10 years.
She argued they should be stored until 2023.
Sir James ruled in her favour.
"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," said Sir James in his ruling.
"During the course of the hearing Samantha addressed me from the well of the court, not because there was any need for oral supplement to her written evidence but because there were things she wanted to be able to say to me direct."
He added: " What Samantha said was powerful and moving. Her plea was simple: 'I want my husband's child'."
Sir James had heard how Mr Jefferies had been a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Falklands War.
On June 8 1982, when he had been 19, Mr Jefferies had been serving with the Welsh Guards on the RFA Sir Galahad when it was bombed at Bluff Cove.
"That day the fates smiled at him," said Sir James in his ruling.
"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."
The judge added: "At his funeral, 32 years later, his commanding officer described his conduct on that fateful day as magnificent."