Paralysed man gets go-ahead for right to die legal case

Tony Nicklinson
Tony Nicklinson has "locked-in" syndrome Photo: PA

Tony Nicklinson, a man with locked-In syndrome after a stroke left him paralysed, has won the first round in his right to die case.

Nicklinson, 57, wanted a declaration that any doctor ending his life will have a "common law defence of necessity" against any possible murder charge.

Mr Nicklinson, who is married with two grown-up daughters and lives in Melksham, Wiltshire, sums up his life as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable".

The decision was announced at the High Court in London by Mr Justice Charles, who on the grounds of necessity ruled that Mr Nicklinson could seek for this to be allowed.

The Judge had been asked to decide on a preliminary "strike out" application in the case made by the Ministry of Justice.

Nicklinson, a former rugby player, suffered a stroke in Athens in 2005 that left him paralysed, though he is not in a vegetative state.

The case will now go to a full trial where all the evidence and issues can be debated.

I give permission for him to seek such relief by way of judicial review.

– High Court judge, Mr Justice Charles

Mr Justice Charles said that when the case goes to a full hearing Tony Nicklinson will be seeking a declaration that:

It would not be unlawful, on the grounds of necessity, for Mr Nicklinson's GP, or another doctor, to terminate or assist the termination of Mr Nicklinson's life.

– Mr Justice Charles

This is a very good result for Tony. It would becompletely wrong if the arguments on Tony’s behalf could not be fully argued onthe grounds that we should wait for parliament to change the law. The court hasa live case before it and is fully able to examine the details in depth and toreach a decision having heard all of the facts evidence and legal arguments.

– Nicklinson's solicitor Saimo Chahal

The only way to relieve Tony's suffering will be to kill him. There is absolutely nothing else that can be done for him. We know there are doctors out there who would do it if it is made legal. It is what he wants and we are all - the girls and I and his sister and all my family - are totally behind him. If you knew the kind of person that he was before, a life like this is unbearable for him. People think he wants to die straight away. He doesn't - he just wants to know that when the time comes he has a way out.

– Jane Nicklinson on BBC Radio 4 Today programme