'Locked-in syndrome' man seeks assisted suicide ruling

Tony Nicklinson
Image caption Tony Nicklinson wants the court to rule that a doctor should be able to help him to die

Judgment has been reserved in a case brought by a severely disabled man with "locked-in syndrome" who has urged a judge not to halt his High Court action to let a doctor end his life.

Tony Nicklinson, 57, of Melksham, Wiltshire, wants a doctor to be able to "lawfully" conduct an assisted suicide.

He says his life is "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable" and wants his "suffering to end".

The Ministry of Justice had applied for the case to be "struck out".

The judge, Mr Justice Charles, will give a ruling at a date to be fixed.

Mr Nicklinson's barrister has been presenting arguments to on why his case should be allowed to proceed.

Mr Nicklinson, who is married with two grown-up daughters, launched a legal action seeking court declarations that a doctor could intervene to end his "indignity" and have a "common law defence of necessity" against any murder charge.

Paul Bowen, for Mr Nicklinson, said the Ministry of Justice had not advanced any arguments which were a sufficient "knock-out blow" to justify striking out of the action.

Mr Bowen said the Ministry of Justice submitted that "necessity can never afford a defence to a charge of murder".

But he said the MoJ "cannot establish on the balance of probabilities" that his case on necessity "has no real prospects of success".

At a recent hearing, David Perry QC, representing the Ministry of Justice, said Mr Nicklinson "is saying the court should positively authorise and permit as lawful the deliberate taking of his life".

He added: "That is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless Parliament were to say otherwise."

Mr Nicklinson was left with locked-in syndrome after he had a stroke in 2005, and communicates through the use of a perspex board or by using his Eye-Blink computer.

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