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Locked-in case blow 'surprising'

Lawyers for locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson, who died shortly after losing a landmark right-to-die legal battle, have branded the decision of High Court judges to refuse permission for his case to go to the Court of Appeal "highly surprising".

Saimo Chahal, who represents the Nicklinson family, said she would be appealing directly to the Court of Appeal.

"It is highly surprising that the court has decided that Jane Nicklinson cannot be substituted to represent Tony Nicklinson in her capacity as his wife, carer and administrator of his estate," she said.

"It is also difficult to understand this decision in the light of the application about to be made by a woman who wishes to take the claim forward in Tony's place and who will seek the same ruling from the court which the court is aware of.

"It is a shame that the court will not allow this debate to be pursued to a higher level as the decision of this court is only the first word on this issue and should not be the last on a topic of this magnitude.

"The next step is an appeal to the Court of Appeal direct to consider permission to appeal."

Stroke victim Mr Nicklinson, a 58-year-old father-of-two from Melksham, Wiltshire, died a week after he lost his court fight to end his life when he chose with a doctor's help. He had been refusing food and contracted pneumonia, dying surrounded by his family on August 22, and his wife vowed to carry on the case.

The judges said they were "deeply conscious of her suffering" since Mr Nicklinson's stroke but said they did "not consider that the proposed appeal has any real prospect of success". They turned down an application by Mrs Nicklinson to be made a party to the proceedings.

Giving the ruling of the court, Lord Justice Toulson said: "We do not consider that the proposed appeal has any real prospect of success. It is, of course, an important question whether the law of murder should be changed in the way that Tony fought for, but it does not follow that permission to appeal should therefore be granted.

"We consider it to be plainly a matter for Parliament."

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