Leeds man paralysed in car crash almost 30 years ago in new fight to change law on assisted dying

Paul Lamb
Paul Lamb
0
Have your say

A Former Leeds builder paralysed  in a car crash almost 30 years ago has spoken of the "horrendous" constant pain he endures after vowing to start a new legal fight to change the law on assisted dying.

Paul Lamb, 63, who was paralysed from the neck down in the crash when he was aged 35, said he is fighting for the right to die a dignified death in his own home if the pain becomes unbearable.

Paul Lamb pictured at his home in west Leeds

Paul Lamb pictured at his home in west Leeds

Mr Lamb lost a right-to-die bid in the Supreme Court in 2014.

Speaking from the bedroom of his home in west Leeds, Mr Lamb said the nerve pain is constant and "horrendous."

Mr Lamb said: "It feels like everything on my body is swollen. It never gets better.

"It annoys me that they keep passing me from pillar to post.

Paul Lamb pictured with his carer Sharon Clayton.

Paul Lamb pictured with his carer Sharon Clayton.

"On a personal level that's getting to me, basically they are saying to me if I live to be 90 I have got to put up with whatever pain I'm in, no matter how bad it gets - that's how the law stands.

"I'm not playing to lose this time, I have had enough and I'm sure there are thousands of other people who feel the same. This law has to change."

Mr Lamb said he would not want to travel to Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal.

Mr Lamb said: "I don't want to put the person who takes me in jeopardy of 14 years in prison.

"I'm trying for a dignified death in my own home."

Mr Lamb is calling for an end to the UK's "cruel and discriminatory law" which prohibits assisted dying.

Mr Lamb said: "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, who is supported in his efforts by Humanists UK and represented by law firm Leigh Day, has written to the Justice Secretary David Gauke, saying current law is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

He has asked Mr Gauke to "undertake to take timely steps to remedy the incompatibility, either by employing the remedial power provided by section 10(2) of the Human Rights Act 1998 or by introducing and promoting an appropriate bill in Parliament".

Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson said: "We are delighted by the news that Paul intends to bring this landmark case and challenge such a heartless law.

"Paul's case seeks a more compassionate law, as it will give those who are terminally ill or incurably suffering the dignity they deserve. We will back him at every stage."

But Dr Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing, said the current law is the "safest law".

He said: "We are disappointed that yet another unnecessary legal challenge is being brought.

"There have been numerous attempts to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia through the courts, all of which have failed, because the judges recognise the limitation of Article 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"They also said this is a matter for parliamentarians, who have looked at the legislation in detail and rejected weakening our current laws."