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New face for Nicklinson campaign

Paul Lamb joins Jane Nicklinson's battle for law reform on assisted dying

19 April 2013

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Paul Lamb joins Jane Nicklinson's battle for law reform on assisted dying

A man paralysed from the neck down who is taking over locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson's legal fight for the right to die can be named publicly, a court ruled this week.

Former builder Paul Lamb, who has been in "significant pain" since a road accident in 1990, wants a doctor to help him die, "preferably by lethal injection".

Lord Justice Elias granted an order in March to take the case to the High Court. Both Lamb and Nicklinson cases will be heard at the Court of Appeal on 13 and 14 May.

He joins forces with Tony Nicklinson's widow, Jane, who is continuing her late husband's original claim against section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961, which makes assisted suicide a criminal offence, and for a declaration of necessity.

Like Nicklinson, Lamb's case goes beyond assisted suicide. Because his severe paralysis makes him unable to take his own life, he needs a doctor to kill him, which amounts to murder under the specific law in England and Wales.

Solicitor Saimo Chahal of Bindmans, who is representing Lamb, told Private Client Adviser: "The way that the claim is made means that the courts would have to sanction any case where a person wished to avail themselves of an assisted death after carefully considering all of the evidence - much in the way that the courts consider withdrawal of nutrition and hydration cases now."

Cruel law

Lamb, 58, has required round-the-clock care since his accident 23 years ago left him without function in any limbs apart from minimal movement in his right hand. He said he wished he would end his own life but couldn't because of the "cruel law".

Similarly, multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy argued her human rights asking the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue offence-specific guidelines that would protect her husband from prosecution if he escorted her to the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.

Hearing the case on final appeal in 2009, the House of Lords ruled in her favour, saying the DPP should issue offence-specific regulation in assisted suicide cases.

Both Lamb's and Nicklinson's cases fall outside the scope of the DPP's February 2010 guidelines.

Lamb said: "I feel genuinely terrified by the fact of not having any choices left and having no control or autonomy over my life. I do not wish to go to Switzerland. Why should I go to a foreign and alien country to die?"

"I would like a doctor to help me to die, without pain and suffering, preferably by a lethal injection with my family around me in my own home."

Chahal added: "The case undoubtedly raises issue of huge moral, ethical and legal significance. It is important that the case is seen as extending rights rather than taking away anyone's rights.

She added: "This law change is intended only for people who have made a clear and settled decision to end their life and cannot do so without the help of a doctor, due to the extent of that person's disabilities."

Five other supporters with different conditions who want to die with dignity have come forward in support.

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