Govt opposes paralysed man’s bid for euthanasia

The High Court case of a paralysed man who wants a doctor to be allowed to kill him should be dismissed, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The Government says there are “compelling reasons” for the court not to get involved in Tony Nicklinson’s case, saying that only Parliament can make such a decision.

A medical ethics expert cautioned that cases such as Mr Nicklinson’s are “extremely rare and hard cases make bad law”.


At a preliminary hearing this week David Perry QC, who represented the Ministry of Justice, asked the judge to throw out the case.

Mr Perry said Mr Nicklinson “is saying the court should positively authorise and permit as lawful the deliberate taking of his life”.

Mr Perry added: “That is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless Parliament were to say otherwise.”

He commented that it should be up to Parliament to decide on the issue, and not the courts “taking this on a case by case basis”.


Mr Nicklinson, who communicates through looking, blinking and nodding, is so paralysed that he would not be able to commit suicide himself and so wants a doctor to be allowed to kill him.

Mr Nicklinson, who is 57, has locked-in syndrome, which means his mind is active but he cannot move his body.

Dr Peter Saunders, the CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, said: “No one can help but be sympathetic to Tony Nicklinson but cases like his are extremely rare and hard cases make bad law.


“The overwhelming majority of people with severe disability – even with ‘locked-in syndrome’ – do not wish to die but rather want support to live.”

Dr Saunders also commented: “But the key point to grasp is that Nicklinson, because he is not capable of killing himself even with assistance, is not seeking assisted suicide but euthanasia.

“So this is an assault on the Murder Act 1965 and not the Suicide Act 1961.”

The case is adjourned until February.

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