Paralysed former builder bringing High Court challenge over assisted dying law

A paralysed former builder is bringing a High Court challenge over the law on assisted dying.

Paul Lamb, who lost a right-to-die case in the Supreme Court in 2014, will ask a judge in London to consider allowing a fresh challenge to go ahead at a hearing on Thursday.

The 63-year-old, from Leeds, contends that the current law, which bans assisted suicide under threat of up to 14 years’ imprisonment, breaches his human rights.

His lawyers will argue the law is also discriminatory because an able-bodied person can end their lives if they wish but those with severe disabilities cannot.

Mr Lamb, who needs round-the-clock care, was severely injured in a car accident in 1990 and has no function below his neck, apart from limited movement in his right arm.

In a statement in May, he said: “I am paralysed from the neck down and live in a state of constant pain.

“In the future my suffering will inevitably become too much to bear. When that happens, I want to be able to control and choose the circumstances of my death.

“As the law stands, my only option would be to die through the inhumane process of dehydration and starvation. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.

“Five years ago, I asked our courts to give me the right to control my own death and they told me to wait.

“Since then I have watched and waited as new evidence has emerged and progressive countries have given millions of others the choice I have asked for.

“And still the UK Parliament has done nothing. I have no option but to ask the court to intervene again. I need them to help me, and many others in my position, to end this cruel and discriminatory law.”

Mr Lamb’s case is being supported by Humanists UK and he is represented by law firm Leigh Day.

His solicitor Rosa Curling said: “We believe Paul’s case is distinct from other cases that have been brought regarding the right to die and we look forward to presenting his full application for judicial review to the court.”

Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson said: “Paul lives in constant pain and is fighting for the right to be able to choose a compassionate ending if his health worsened and his suffering became too unbearable.

“We must support people’s autonomy and their right to control what happens to their own bodies – this is the essence of what it means to protect human dignity and prevent suffering.

“More than 90% of the British public now support a change in the law and several countries internationally have legalised assisted dying.

“Now really is the time to act and give people like Paul the compassion and dignity they deserve.”

Mr Lamb previously brought a case at the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights alongside Jane Nicklinson, the widow of Tony Nicklinson, who took up his legal fight after he died.

Mr Nicklinson, from Melksham, Wiltshire, who suffered locked-in syndrome after having a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005, died aged 58 just days after his right-to-die challenge was rejected by the High Court in 2012.

Mr Lamb will not attend the hearing, before Mr Justice Dingemans and Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing, as he is too unwell.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Humanists UK / PA Wire.

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