Wiltshire man wants right to die

A severely-disabled 57-year-old man from Wiltshire is to ask a High Court judge to allow a doctor to "lawfully" end his life.

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.

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

A spokesman for law firm Bindmans said:

"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. 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. Mr Nicklinson has  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."

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

"When the time is right I want to be able to die at home with a drug which a doctor could give me so that I can take it with help and go to sleep peacefully with my family around to say goodbye to me. That would be a good death. What I have to look forward to is a wretched ending with uncertainty, pain, and suffering while my family watch on helplessly. Why must I suffer these indignities? If I were able bodied I could put an end to my life when I want to. Why is life so cruel?"

At a hearing in January 2012 David Perry QC, representing the Ministry of Justice, asked the judge to strike out the action - which would bring it to an end.

He said: "There are compelling reasons why the court should not intervene." Mr Perry said Mr Nicklinson "is saying the court should positively authorise and permit as lawful the deliberate taking of his life. That is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless Parliament were to say otherwise."

No matter how tragic the circumstances or situation, it was not a reason for "distorting the settled law".

It could only be Parliament "who could properly put into place a system with appropriate safeguards and conditions, not the courts taking this on a case by case basis".

The proceedings were adjourned until February 8 for counsel on behalf of Mr Nicklinson to make representations on his behalf on the strike-out application