Locked-in man loses test case

Posted: 16th August 2012

Locked-in syndrome sufferer, Tony Nicklinson, has failed in his High Court battle for the legal right to end his life when he chooses and with a doctor’s help. A second victim of the syndrome, referred to as ‘Martin’, also lost his challenge to the established ban on assisted dying.

Three judges sitting at the High Court in London referred to the two men’s ‘terrible predicament’ and described their cases as ‘deeply moving and tragic’

However, Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur ruled unanimously that it would be wrong for the court to depart from the long-established legal position that ‘voluntary euthanasia is murder however understandable the motives may be’.

Leaving doctors and solicitors who encourage or assist suicide ‘at real risk of prosecution’, the court ruled that the current law does not violate human rights and it was for Parliament, not the courts, to decide whether it should be changed.

Any reform of the current position would require ‘the most carefully structured safeguards which only Parliament can deliver’, the court concluded.

Mr Nicklinson, 58, from Melksham, Wiltshire, was left paralysed by a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005. The court heard that he had been told his existence of ‘pure torture’ could continue - if a doctor could not help end it - for another 20 years or more.