Barbaric and inhumane: Paralysed man Paul Lamb hits back after judges dismiss his right-to-die appeal

Former builder has spent the past 23 years receiving round-the-clock care with only a tiny degree of movement in his right arm

Britain's right-to die laws are "barbaric and inhumane" a paralysed man said after three of the country's most senior judges today rejected his appeal to be allowed assistance to help him end his own life.

Paul Lamb, 57, has spent the past 23 years receiving round-the-clock care following a car crash which left him with only a tiny degree of movement in his right arm. He said politicians were "scared to death" to bring the UK in line with other countries where assisted suicide was legal.

The former builder and the family of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson, who died last year, said they will now take their campaign to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

The Lord Chief Justice, sitting with Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Elias, concluded that the laws relating to relating to assisted suicide could only be changed by Parliament.

Their decision followed the latest bid by disability campaigners to give those with catastrophic physical injuries or the terminally ill greater control over their deaths.

However, the judges accepted that another man suffering from locked-in syndrome, who can only be identified by the name Martin, should be allowed to take his case to the Supreme Court.

Martin is seeking to clarify whether medical staff would be exempt from prosecution if they helped him commit suicide. Mr Lamb and Mr Nicklinson's widow Jane were also granted leave to appeal the decision.

Mr Lamb told The Independent: "Politicians are scared to death. It is a case of `Oh no, we can't do that - it's too risky'. If there was a politician with the guts to take it on it would be alright but I don't think they have got it in them."

The father-of-two spends many days being dosed with powerful drugs including morphine to combat the root pain he suffers as a result of his spinal injuries.

He joined the right-to-die battle following the death in 2012 of stroke-victim Mr Nicklinson, 58, who contracted pneumonia after refusing food following an earlier decision by the High Court rejecting his voluntary euthanasia claim.

The court heard that the two men were condemned to "suffer in silence" because they were physically unable to end lives which had become "unbearable".

Mr Lamb said he had no plans to take his life at present. But he said: "I am doing this for myself as and when I need it. I'm doing it for thousands of other people living what can only be described as a hell. Many of them have been in touch with me begging me to continue this fight. The more it goes on the stronger I am getting," he said.

Lawyers for Martin said his wife was unwilling to help him take his own life and he would rely on the assistance of a medical professional or carer to help him do so. Under guidance laid down by the Director of Public Prosecution following another case brought by campaigner Debbie Purdy, it is unclear whether they might face trial if they helped him travel abroad to Swiss suicide clinic.

Speaking through a computer Martin said: "Almost every aspect of my daily life is outside of my control. I want, at least, to be able to control my death and this judgment goes some way to allow me to do this."

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association which helped bring the cases, said 80 per cent of the British public backed reform.

"This is the biggest bio-ethical issue of our time. It already affects so many people but in the coming years it is going to touch the lives of an ever increasing number, as improvements in medical science allow us to keep people alive way beyond the point at which they might wish to live. It is unrealistic to think we can ignore it," Mr Copson said.

The Lord Chief Justice argued that it was not up to judges to change the law on matters of life and death such as hanging and abortion arguing that Parliament represented "the conscience of the nation".

Dr Andrew Fergusson of the anti-euthanasia campaign group Care Not Killing welcomed the ruling in the case of Nicklinson and Lamb. "The judges acknowledged these are three tragic cases but agreed with our view that it is not acceptable to expect the state to sanction and condone murder," he said.

Q&A by Jonathan Brown

What happened today?

Judges rejected a claim that doctors should be able to plead a new defence of necessity to stop intolerable suffering in the case of severely disabled or dying people who want to end their lives but are unable to do so. They also rejected the argument that murder laws were incompatible with the Human Rights Act although they agreed that the law should be clarified by the Supreme Court.

What is the current law?

A doctor who administered a lethal injection would be charged with murder. The Suicide Act (1961) in England or Wales (but not Scotland) also makes it illegal to assist someone take their life. But those who help loved ones travel overseas to commit suicide do not face prosecution. Medics are allowed to withdraw treatment and fluids from patients at the very end of their lives.

What is the argument against?

Religious groups, disability campaigners and health professionals change would reinforce negative attitudes to the most vulnerable and undermine the respect for life.

What happens next?

Campaigners want Parliament to changes the law but the Government has no plans to do so.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?