Court blow for locked-in man Tony Nicklinson's widow

 

Lawyers for locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson, who died shortly after losing a landmark right-to-die legal battle, branded the decision of High Court judges to refuse permission for his case to go to the Court of Appeal “highly surprising”.

Saimo Chahal, who represents the Nicklinson family, said she would be appealing directly to the Court of Appeal.

"It is highly surprising that the court has decided that Jane Nicklinson cannot be substituted to represent Tony Nicklinson in her capacity as his wife, carer and administrator of his estate," she said.

"It is also difficult to understand this decision in the light of the application about to be made by a woman who wishes to take the claim forward in Tony's place and who will seek the same ruling from the court which the court is aware of.

"It is a shame that the court will not allow this debate to be pursued to a higher level as the decision of this court is only the first word on this issue and should not be the last on a topic of this magnitude.

"The next step is an appeal to the Court of Appeal direct to consider permission to appeal."

Stroke victim Mr Nicklinson, a 58-year-old father-of-two from Melksham, Wiltshire, died a week after he lost his court fight to end his life when he chose with a doctor's help.

He had been refusing food and contracted pneumonia, dying surrounded by his family on August 22, and his wife vowed to carry on the case.

The judges said they were "deeply conscious of her suffering" since Mr Nicklinson's stroke, but said they did "not consider that the proposed appeal has any real prospect of success".

They turned down an application by Mrs Nicklinson to be made a party to the proceedings.

Giving the ruling of the court, Lord Justice Toulson said: "We do not consider that the proposed appeal has any real prospect of success.

"It is, of course, an important question whether the law of murder should be changed in the way that Tony fought for, but it does not follow that permission to appeal should therefore be granted.

"We consider it to be plainly a matter for Parliament."

The judges did announce that a second sufferer of the syndrome, who also lost his case at the High Court in August, has been given the go-ahead for his action against the Director of Public Prosecutions to be heard by appeal judges.

The parties were informed of the appeal decisions made by Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur, in a written ruling sent to them today.

The second sufferer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but is known as AM or Martin, suffered a massive stroke in August 2008.

The 47-year-old is unable to speak, is virtually unable to move and describes his life as "undignified, distressing and intolerable" - he wants to be allowed a "dignified suicide".

The go-ahead to appeal in relation to the DPP was granted as it raised "questions of sufficient significance to merit consideration by the Court of Appeal".

The judges refused Martin permission to take his case against "the regulators" - the General Medical Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority - to appeal.

Richard Stein, partner at Leigh Day & Co and the solicitor for Martin, said: "Martin will be extremely pleased to hear that the Divisional Court has granted him leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

"His case clearly raises several very important issues that need to be resolved as a matter of priority and we will now be preparing the appeal speedily so that they can be considered by the Court of Appeal without further delay.

"Martin describes his current way of life as torture. He is hoping the Court of Appeal will finally allow him to take steps to achieve the relief that he seeks."

PA

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