Locked-in man 'condemned to suffer'

Jane Nicklinson is in court on behalf of husband Tony who has locked-in syndrome (Richard Ansett/Channel 4/PA)

Jane Nicklinson is in court on behalf of husband Tony who has locked-in syndrome (Richard Ansett/Channel 4/PA)

First published in National News © by

Locked-in syndrome victim Tony Nicklinson is being condemned to live in a state of suffering and indignity by the current law of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the High Court has heard.

A barrister representing Tony Nicklinson, 58, who wants a doctor to be able to lawfully end his life, told three judges in London that he was not seeking to persuade the court to "introduce an all-encompassing new regime legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide".

Paul Bowen QC, speaking in a packed courtroom, added: "While he would welcome such a change, he accepts that such a regime can only be introduced by Parliament. However, there is no sign of Parliament introducing such a regime any time soon that would afford the claimant the opportunity of an assisted death with dignity."

Mr Nicklinson, from Melksham, Wiltshire, maintained that in the absence of statutory regulation he is entitled to "remedy" from the court.

Mr Bowen said the current law was "anomalous and discriminatory" and had not stopped the "widespread practice of euthanasia but has forced it underground".

During a four-day hearing Lord Justice Toulson, sitting with Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur, will hear argument in a further "landmark" judicial review action brought by a man who suffered a "massive" stroke three years ago at the age of 43.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but is referred to as Martin or AM, is unable to move, is able to communicate only by moving his eyes, requires constant care and is entirely dependent on others for every aspect of his life.

Mr Nicklinson suffered a catastrophic stroke in 2005 while on a business trip to Athens which left him paralysed below the neck and unable to speak. He communicates by blinking or limited head movement and sums up his existence as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable". Before the stroke Mr Nicklinson was a "very active and outgoing man".

He describes having no "privacy or dignity left" and says that what he objects to is having his right to choose taken away from him.

Mr Nicklinson cannot be present for the hearing, but speaking before the proceedings began, his wife Jane, 56, said: "We are just really happy that the time has come for Tony to get heard in court and we're just hoping for a good outcome." She acknowledged: "Whatever happens, there's no happy endings in this one."

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