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Nicklinson’s wife denied right to appeal

The High Court has today (2 October 2012) refused permission for the right-to-die case of Tony Nicklinson to be heard by the Court of Appeal.

2 October 2012

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Nicklinson, who suffered from locked-in syndrome, died from pneumonia after refusing food in August and his wife, Jane, had pledged to continue with her husband’s fight that a doctor should be able to lawfully end his life.

However, although the High Court judges expressed sympathy towards Mrs Nicklinson, they said they “do not consider that the proposed appeal has any real prospect of success” and refused to make her party to the proceedings.

Giving the judgment, Lord Justice Toulson, said: “It is of course an important question whether the law of murder should be changed in the way that Tony fought for, but it does not follow that permission to appeal should therefore be granted. We consider it to be plainly a matter for parliament.

“We accept the submission that the boundary between the role of the court and the role of parliament in deciding such a question is itself a matter of constitutional significance, but again it does not follow that permission to appeal should be granted in circumstances where we can see no real prospect of any court being in doubt about it in the area with which we are concerned.”

The Nicklinson family have vowed to appeal the decision. Following the judgment, Jane Nicklinson wrote on Twitter: "High courts have refused our request for me to take over and appeal the decision. We will appeal to Courts of Appeal so not all over yet."

Fellow locked-in syndrome sufferer ‘Martin’ was granted leave to appeal against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), although, again, the High Court judges “do not consider that the appeal has any real prospect of success”.

Martin, who is unable to move and able to communicate only by moving his eyes, challenged the DPP’s policy on assisted suicide, which he argues is insufficiently clear and fails to have regard to someone in his position.

He is asking that the DPP amend his current guidance so that professionals would not face criminal and/or disciplinary action if they helped him end his life.

Martin was refused permission to appeal against the General Medical Council (GMC) or the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

For the full judgment, see http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/am-dpp-nicklinson-moj-ruling-02102012.pdf

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