Euthanasia cases rejected by Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has rejected attempts to weaken the law on euthanasia by a severely disabled man and the family of the late locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson.

Three judges unanimously upheld a ruling that Mr Nicklinson did not have the right to be helped to die.

They also dismissed the case of paralysed man Paul Lamb who appealed to have the right to be euthanised by a doctor.

Clarification

But a man with locked-in syndrome, known only as Martin, won his case to seek further clarification of the Director for Public Prosecution’s guidelines on assisted suicide involving health professionals.

Care Not Killing (CNK), a campaign group against the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanaisia, welcomed the Court of Appeal’s rejection of the Nicklinson and Lamb cases.

Dr Andrew Fergusson, a spokesman for CNK, said: “The judgment comprehensively and completely dismissed these appeals, which sought to alter legislation covering murder.”

Rejected

He added: “All three judges strongly rejected the notion that ‘necessity’ should be a defence in euthanasia cases, saying this was not compatible with English Law.”

He said the judges, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Elias, recognised that only Parliament could change the laws on murder and suicide.

Dr Fergusson also said the judges confirmed that the current laws “protect the vulnerable and those without a voice: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives.”

Concerned

But CNK are concerned about the 2-1 ruling in favour of the Martin case to seek clarification of assisted suicide guidelines.

Dr Fergusson said: “We were persuaded by the dissenting opinion from the UK’s most senior judge that change was unnecessary and unhelpful, but, importantly, this clarification does not change the current law.”

However the Director for Public Prosecutions, who would be required to provide the clarification, is seeking to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Challenge

Paul Lamb, 57, who is not terminally ill but is paralysed from the neck down, was challenging the law so he could be euthanised.

His case was joined to that of Jane Nicklinson, widow of the late Tony Nicklinson.

They are planning to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.