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Paul Lamb, 58, Takes Up Tony Nicklinson’s Right To Die Fight

April 18, 2013

A man paralysed from the neck down is taking up the legal challenge previously mounted by the late Tony Nicklinson for the right-to-die with the help of a doctor.

 

Paul Lamb, 58, from Leeds, has joined forces with the family of Mr Nicklinson, who died in August 2012, a week after his legal bid had failed.

 

Earlier this year, his widow Jane won permission to appeal against the High Court ruling in her own right.

 

Mr Lamb says he is “worn out, trapped”.

 

The two cases will now be heard in the Court of Appeal on 14 and 15 May.

 

In England and Wales, it is an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt. The law is almost identical in Northern Ireland.

 

In Scotland there is no specific law on assisted suicide, although in theory someone could be prosecuted under homicide legislation.

‘Pointless life’

In March, the Court of Appeal granted an order allowing Mr Lamb, who has waived his right to anonymity, to take over Mr Nicklinson’s claims.

 

He is seeking a court declaration that any doctor who killed him would have a defence against such a charge.

 

The defence is known as “necessity”, meaning it was necessary for the doctor to act to stop intolerable suffering.

 

Mr Lamb, who was severely injured in a car accident in 1990, has no function in any of his limbs apart from a little movement in his right hand. He says he has been in pain for 23 years, needs 24-hour care and his life consists of “being fed and watered”.

 

In a statement to the courts, the father-of two said: “I am in pain every single hour of every single day. I have lived with these conditions for a lot of years and have given it my best shot.

 

“Now I feel worn out and I am genuinely fed up with my life. I feel I cannot and do not want to keep living. I feel trapped by the situation and have no way out.

 

“I spend my day sitting in my wheelchair. My daily routine is tedious, monotonous and pointless. I often go to bed at 5pm – such is the pointlessness of it all.

 

“I am fed up of going through the motions of life rather than living it. I feel enough is enough.”

 

Mr Lamb, who is divorced from his wife, said he was not depressed and just wanted to end his life in a dignified way, with his loved ones around him.

‘Family’s distress’

“I would like a doctor to help me die, without pain and suffering, preferably by a lethal injection with my family around me in my own home,” he said.

 

His solicitor Saimo Chahal said it was an “important moment” when he was allowed to join the proceedings started by the Nicklinsons.

 

“The fact the court has agreed to this is a recognition of the very wide significance of the issues and the public interest in having a decision on the right to die with dignity issue,” she said.

 

In January, Mrs Nicklinson won permission to continue her husband’s campaign and appeal against the High Court ruling that refused to grant him permission to seek medical assistance to die.

 

 

The Court of Appeal ruled she was able to pursue a claim in her own right under Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

She says she suffered pain, distress and injury as a result of her having to witness the distressing life that her husband suffered.

 

Mr Nicklinson was paralysed from the neck down after a stroke in 2005 and suffered from locked-in syndrome. After refusing food and fluids, the father-of-two died from pneumonia at his home in Melksham, Wiltshire, on 22 August 2012.

 

He was one of several people to challenge the current laws on assisted dying. Diane Pretty, who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease and died in 2002, wanted the courts to give her husband immunity from prosecution.

 

Debbie Purdy, who has severe multiple sclerosis, challenged the lack of clarity on the law on assisted suicide. She wanted to understand how prosecutors would make a decision on whether or not to prosecute her husband if he was to assist her to get to Switzerland to be helped to die.

 

Ms Purdy won her case and guidance was issued in 2010, but the law did not change.

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