Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Court bid to 'lawfully' end life

Tony Nicklinson suffered a massive stroke in 2005 which left him paralysed from the neck down and unable to speak

A severely-disabled 57-year-old man is to ask a High Court judge to allow a doctor to "lawfully" end his life, solicitors have said.

Lawyers want a ruling that a doctor could intervene to end Tony Nicklinson's "indignity" and have a "common law defence of necessity" against any murder charge.

They expect a judge in the Family Division of the High Court to begin hearing arguments in the near future and say the case will be a "test" which raises "difficult" questions about euthanasia.

Mr Nicklinson - who is married with two grown up daughters and lives in Melksham, Wiltshire - had a stroke in 2005 and was left with "locked in syndrome", say lawyers.

"The effect of the stroke is that Tony cannot move anything except his head and eyes. He is paralysed below the neck, unable to speak and needs help with every single aspect of his life," said a spokesman for law firm Bindmans, which represents Mr Nicklinson.

"However, Tony is mentally competent and can make decisions about life. He believes fervently in the right to self determination. He communicates through the use of a perspex board or by using his Eye-Blink computer and sums up his life as 'dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable'.

"He is too physically disabled to take his own life but he wants the right to self-determination, just like any able-bodied person, who can choose to take his or her own life."

The spokesman added: "(Mr Nicklinson) has today issued proceedings in the High Court asking for declarations that it is lawful for a doctor to terminate his life, with his consent and with him making the decision with full mental capacity.

"He seeks a declaration that the common law defence of necessity is available to a charge of murder in a case of voluntary active euthanasia, provided that the court has sanctioned the act in advance."

Lawyers said Mr Nicklinson had been married to his wife Jane for 25 years and the couple had two daughters - Lauren, 24 and Beth, 23. They said he had a stoke in June 2005 while working as a manager for a Greek civil engineering company based in the United Arab Emirates.

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