Tony Nicklinson was a civil engineer and rugby player until he became paralysed from the neck down following a stroke in 2005. He suffered from locked-in syndrome, and described his life as a ‘living nightmare’. He consistently expressed a desire to seek an assisted death, so that he could die with dignity on his own terms. However, because he would need a doctor to administer a lethal injection, the procedure would have been unlawful in the UK. As a result of his severe disabilities, he was unable to even travel to Switzerland – where physician assisted suicide is lawful. After his death in 2012, Tony’s wife, Jane, and his legal representatives, Saimo Chahal QC (hon) and Paul Bowen QC, fought the case up to the Supreme Court and later European Court of Human Rights. The Supreme Court by a majority stated that Art was engaged but that Parliament should have an opportunity to look at the issues in the first instance- particularly in relation to people with incurable diseases who had a long time to live and that if Parliament did not then then may well have to consider the issues afresh.
You can read Ms Chahal’s comments on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights here.
Paul Lamb was left paralysed after a road accident more than 20 years ago. He stepped into Tony’s shoes and took over a part of the case when Tony died. Paul’s case was considered by the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights sitting in Strasbourg along with Jane Nicklison’s case as the Administrator of Tony’s will.