Paralysed man joins Nicklinson family in right to die battle

Paralysed man joins Nicklinson family in right to die battle

The widow of Tony Nicklinson has been joined in the fight to change the existing law on murder and assisted suicide by a man from Leeds.

Paul Lamb, from Leeds, was seriously injured in a car accident in 1990 and has no function in any of his limbs. He is so badly paralysed that he is incapable of killing himself and would need a doctor to kill him which, under the existing law would amount to murder. It is an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt.

He has joined the fight of Jane Nicklinson who, earlier this year, won the right, in the Court of Appeal, as administrator of her late husband’s estate, to continue the challenge to a High Court ruling against doctor-assisted death.

Jane Nicklinson’s husband Tony had been left with “locked-in” syndrome after a severe stroke. He was unable to take his own life as a result and asked the courts to rule on whether it was legal, on the grounds of necessity, for a doctor to assist him in taking his own life. He had also argued, in the High Court just before his death, that the state was infringing his rights under article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The right protects the private life of individuals from interference by public and private bodies and joins in UK law in ruling that the state should not be allowed to intrude into somebody’s private life without strict justification. Both of Tony Nicklinson’s claims were dismissed in the High Court in August 2012, just a week before he died but his widow has been granted leave to appeal the court’s judgment. She has also been given a protective costs order which means that she will not have to pay the other side’s costs if she loses the case.

Nicklinson began to refuse nutrition and medical treatment immediately after the High Court’s ruling last summer and died of pneumonia on August 22. The two cases will be heard in the Court of Appeal on May 14 and 15.