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Assisted dying to come to court again

20 July 2010

Another challenge to the law on assisted suicide in England & Wales is set to come before the courts after a man paralysed by a stroke began judicial review proceedings in the High Court yesterday.

Tony Nicklinson (56) from Melksham, Wiltshire, was on holiday in Greece five years ago when he suffered the stroke, which has left him paralysed from teh neck down and able to communicate only by using his head and eyes, through looking, blinking and nodding to spell out words composed using a plastic board and letters.

He said yesterday that if he had known at the time of the attack what he knew now, he would not have called an ambulance "but let nature take its course".

Unable to end his life without direct assistance, he believes his wife might face prosecution for murder if she helps him to die.

His petition maintains that the current law of murder constitutes a disproportionate interference with his right to personal autonomy under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which contains the right to private life.

In February this year the Director of Public Prosecutions published guidelines as to when prosecution for assisted suicide, a crime in England & Wales, would not be considered in the public interest (click here for news item). However because Mr Nicklinson is unable to do anything for himself, he would be unable to commit suicide even with assistance and any act to end his life could be treated as murder.

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