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Tony Nicklinson: Right-to-die judges avoided 'real issues'

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"It's not the result I was hoping for but it isn't entirely unexpected. Judges, like politicians, are happiest when they can avoid (contd)

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confronting the real issues and this judgement is not an exception to the rule. I believe the legal team acting on my behalf is (contd)

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Family establish petition as right-to-die verdict nears

The family of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson have established an online petition as he waits to learn whether he can be given the right to die.

His daughters are tweeting on his behalf today and appealed for support ahead of the High Court ruling at 2:00pm:

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We now have a petition set up to support dads right to die - please sign, tweet and share - http://t.co/qiaQCL0g #righttodie #tony (LN)

Tony Nicklinson primed for media ahead of right-to-die ruling

The daughters of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson are tweeting on his behalf as he deals with press, while awaiting a potentially landmark High Court ruling:

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Dad dressed & ready to give media interviews. About to clear Dad's room to allow for TV crews & all their gear (LN) #righttodie #tony

Right-to-die victory would change UK murder law

Victory for Tony Nicklinson at the High Court would be a landmark ruling in a right-to-die case and would alter the UK's murder laws.

The locked-in syndrome sufferer wants any doctor delivering him a fatal dose to have a "common law defence of necessity" against any possible murder charge.

Current legal guidelines suggest only family members or close friends, who are driven by compassion, are unlikely to be prosecuted for assisting a suicide.

A second case of a locked-in syndrome sufferer, which is also set for a High Court judgment, could also shift assisted suicide practices.

The man, referred to as "Martin", wants volunteers to take him to Swizerland's Dignitas clinic as his wife is unwilling to help end his life, despite backing his right to die.

A ruling in his favour would widen the pool of people who would be unlikely to face prosecution for assisting such a death.

Locked-in syndrome sufferer to learn fate

Tony Nicklinson was left paralysed by a stroke in 2005.

Locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson is due to learn whether he has won his High Court battle for the right to end his life when he chooses.

Mr Nicklinson, aged 58, from Melksham in Wiltshire, was left paralysed by a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005.

He sums up his existence as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable": a life that he does not wish to live for decades to come.

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The law on assisted suicide

  • It is an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt in England and Wales.
  • Anyone doing so could face up to 14 years in prison.
  • To date, more than 100 UK citizens have travelled to Dignitas in Switzerland to die.
  • Although some cases have been considered by the DPP, no relative has yet been prosecuted.

In February 2010 the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer published draft guidance to outline the factors that would determine whether someone would be prosecuted for assisting a suicide.

Right-to-die cases that have hit the headlines

Tony Nicklinson's legal battle is the latest high-profile right-to-die case to hit the headlines. Others have included:

Debbie Purdy

In 2009 Multiple Sclerosis patient Debbie Purdy won a legal victory in the House of Lords. Ms Purdy successfully argued it is a breach of her human rights not to know whether her husband would be prosecuted if he accompanies her to a Swiss clinic where she wishes to die if her condition worsens.

Tony Nicklinson with his wife Jane.
Tony Nicklinson with his wife Jane. Credit: Press Association

Sir Edward Downes

In 2009 Conductor Sir Edward Downes and his wife Joan died at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. Downes, who was 85, was almost blind when he and his 74-year-old wife, who had become his full-time carer, travelled to Switzerland to end their lives.

Diane Pretty

Terminally ill British woman Diane Pretty lost her legal battle to allow her husband to help her commit suicide. The 43-year-old died of motor neurone disease at a hospice in 2002.

Daniel James

Rugby player Daniel James committed suicide in a Swiss euthanasia clinic in 2008. The 23-year-old had become paralysed from the chest down after a training accident. His death was investigated by police.

Stroke victim turns to Twitter to help speak his mind

Tony Nicklinson recently turned to Twitter so he could tell people why he wants a doctor to end his life.

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Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet. #tony

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Read yesterday that the BMA has recommended it change its stance on assisted dying from anti- to neutral. One small step for a man...?#tony

However many of Tony's followers are trying to persuade him his life is worth keeping.

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People want to know if I will change my mind because of Twitter. Let's hear the judgement first and maybe I'll tell you.#tony

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