'Am I glad that the doctor saved my life? No I'm not'

High Court victory for man with 'locked-in syndrome' fighting for the right to die

Britain's murder laws could be radically reinterpreted if a severely disabled man succeeds in his legal battle to allow a doctor to kill him without the risk of prosecution.

Tony Nicklinson, a father of two from Wiltshire who once led an active life and loved extreme sports, like skydiving, is now trapped in his own body after a stroke left him paralysed from the neck down. A victim of "locked-in syndrome", he is unable to kill himself and instead wants a doctor to be able end his life without being prosecuted for murder. Yesterday the High Court gave him permission to proceed with a full hearing on his case, including if a "common law defence of necessity" could be used to protect his loved ones or doctors from prosecution if they helped him end his life.

In a harrowing statement submitted to the High Court, Mr Nicklinson described how his life had become "intolerable" following a stroke in Athens six years ago that has left him completely dependent on others and only able to communicate through blinking. The ex-engineer, who used to live with his family in Dubai, said: "I cannot scratch if I itch, I cannot pick my nose if it is blocked and I can only eat if I'm fed like a baby – only I won't grow out of it, unlike the baby. I have no privacy or dignity left."

He added: "Am I grateful that the Athens doctors saved my life? No, I am not. If I had my time again, and knew then what I know now, I would not have called the ambulance but let nature take its course." The case is the latest "right to die" plea that has come before the courts amid a continued unwillingness by Parliament to grapple with the issue of whether euthanasia should be legalised in certain circumstances.

Giving Mr Nicklinson permission to argue his case at a five-day hearing this summer, Justice William Charles said the 53-year-old father recognised he was "inviting the court to cross the Rubicon" in deciding if and when murder is ever justifiable. The Ministry of Justice tried to have the case thrown out, arguing that only Parliament could decide whether someone could be legally killed.

However, Mr Nicklinson's legal team insisted the current common law definition of necessity might allow the judiciary to rule whether there were certain circumstances when someone could "terminate or assist the termination of Mr Nicklinson's life".

Justice Charles said their case "was arguable" and therefore should be submitted for judicial review at a later date. In his heartfelt statement to the court, Mr Nicklinson painted a grim picture of his life, stating that he actually hoped to "acquire a life-threatening illness such as cancer" so that he could then at least refuse treatment and be allowed to die.

Anti-euthanasia groups have expressed concern that any legalisation of assisted dying would put vulnerable people at risk. But Mr Nicklinson said, unlike those who are of frail mind, he was not vulnerable and knew what he wanted. "By all means protect the vulnerable... just don't include me," he said. "I'm not vulnerable. I don't need help or protection from death or those who would help me. I'm asking for my right to choose when and how to die to be respected."

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

    £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

    Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

    £8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

    £14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable