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Terminally ill man brings challenge against assisted dying ruling

Retired lecturer Noel Conway, 68, who has motor neurone diesease, wants medical assistance to die once he has only six months left to live.

A terminally ill man’s legal fight over his wish for a “peaceful and dignified” death is set to continue today.

Noel Conway, a 68-year-old retired lecturer from Shrewsbury, says he feels “entombed” by his motor neurone disease, which was diagnosed more than three years ago.

When he has less than six months left to live and still has mental capacity to make the decision, he wants to be able to enlist help from medical professionals to bring about his death.

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Terminally-ill retired lecturer Noel Conway, 68, with his wife Carol (left), stepson Terry McCusker (centre back) and Sarah Wootton, CEO of Dignity in Dying outside High Court in London. Stefan Rousseau/PA

He previously asked for a declaration that the Suicide Act 1961 is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to respect for private and family life, and Article 14, which protects from discrimination.

But his case was rejected by High Court judges in October last year.

His lawyers will go to the Appeal Court today to ask for permission to challenge that ruling.

In a statement after the High Court decision, Mr Conway said he was “deeply disappointed” and vowed to fight on.

He said the only option he currently has is to “effectively suffocate” by choosing to remove his ventilator.

Mr Conway added: “Knowing I had the option of a safe, peaceful assisted death at a time of my choosing would allow me to face my final months without the fear and anxiety that currently plagues me and my loved ones.

“It would allow me to live the rest of my life on my own terms, knowing I was in control rather than at the mercy of a cruel illness.

“Throughout this case I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support the public has shown me. I know that this fight is important not just to me, but thousands of others.”

Mr Conway is being represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell and supported by campaign group Dignity in Dying.

His case was opposed by the Secretary of State for Justice, with Humanists UK, Care Not Killing and Not Dead Yet UK also making submissions.

His legal team said he will not be attending the appeal hearing, due to start at 11am, as he is too unwell.

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