Mum’s law degree tribute to vCJD daughter

Annie McVey completes the Open University law degree in tribute to teenage daughter Claire.

A North Devon mum who took her battle to the courts after her daughter became one of the first to die from vCJD has completed the law degree she began as an aid to the fight.

Annie Mcvey has graduated from the Open University with a Bachelor of Law honours degree, which she dedicated to the memory of Claire, who died from the human form of BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in 2000 aged just 15.

The Kentisbury mum, 53, started studying in 2004 when she plunged into a complex legal system in a battle for compensation on behalf of Claire and the families of other victims.

“Claire had been interested in law and she might well have gone on to study it herself if she had had the chance,” she said.

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“She’s a terrible loss to the family – it should have been us going to her graduation ceremony.”

“When Claire died, we were thrown into this political and legal melee, but it wasn’t a legal system that I recognised.

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“There was this yawning gap between the pure sense of justice that most of us have and the legal system I was suddenly involved in. I felt I needed to understand it.”

Ms McVey is disabled and Open University was able to support her in her studies, allowing her to take exams at home and giving her extended deadlines on coursework.

Claire was one of only 177 known vCJD victims worldwide. Last year Ms McVey and other families took their case to the High Court over what they said was a “flawed” Government compensation scheme. But their challenge and a subsequent Court of Appeal action failed.

Ms McVey’s own claim was settled but she said she wanted to make the process of claiming easier for bereaved families.

She now plans to become a qualified legal executive, and hopes to go on to take a Masters degree in Medical Ethics.

“I cannot praise the Open University highly enough,” she added, “it allows people like me who can’t go to university full time, to study for a degree.”

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