Challenge by terminally ill man over ban on assisted dying reaches High Court

A legal challenge by a terminally ill motor neurone disease sufferer over the law on assisted dying will reach the High Court on Tuesday.

Phil Newby, 49, from Rutland, East Midlands, was diagnosed with MND in 2014 and is no longer able to walk or use his hands and lower arms.

The married father of two (pictured) is bringing legal action against the Government over the law which makes it a criminal offence for anyone to help another person end their life.

Mr Newby’s case is that leading judges should undertake a thorough examination of a large amount of expert evidence – including from jurisdictions around the world where assisted dying is legal – before deciding whether the “blanket ban” is incompatible with his human rights.

On his Crowdjustice website, through which he has raised more than £42,000 towards legal costs so far, Mr Newby said: “I’m fighting this case for everyone who believes in the right to have a dignified and civilised ending for people who are incurably ill and approaching the end of life.

“Securing the right to be helped to die with medical supervision as I near the end of life will provide great comfort.

“Rather than shortening my life, I believe that it will help me live the time that remains to the full.”

At a hearing in London on Tuesday, Mr Newby’s lawyers will ask two leading judges to give the go-ahead for a full hearing of his case.

He said: “By bringing this case I’m laying down the gauntlet, asking our most senior judges to examine the evidence on assisted dying in detail.

“I sincerely hope that the court will grant permission so that all the issues can be fully aired with my lawyers having the chance to cross-examine the witnesses who argue against a change in the law and the Government having the same right with my expert witnesses.”

Mr Newby, a former director of environmental firm Green Ventures, thanked his supporters.

He said: “I am hugely thankful to everyone who has helped me get this far.

“Many of those who have donated to support the case have direct experience of our outdated and cruel law.

“Reading the comments of supporters on Crowdjustice is both heart-breaking and stirring.

“Like me, some are staring into a bleak future where no choice exists for a dignified death.

“Others are the traumatised loved ones of terminally ill people who felt they had no option but to end their own lives.”

The case is the latest in a series of challenges where the courts have been asked to consider the matter of assisted dying.

The most recent legal action was brought by MND sufferer Noel Conway, whose bid to appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected in November last year.

The hearing of Mr Newby’s permission application, before Mr Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice May, is due to start at 2pm.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Phil Newby.