Man vows to go on fighting for his ‘right-to-die’

A Leeds man who was paralysed after a road accident 20 years ago has vowed to continue his fight to die with dignity after his case was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights yesterday.

Paul Lamb accompanied by Jane Nicklinson, widow of Tony Nicklinson, the Court of Human Rights in Strabourg.
Paul Lamb accompanied by Jane Nicklinson, widow of Tony Nicklinson, the Court of Human Rights in Strabourg.

Former builder Paul Lamb, 59, from Bramley, Leeds joined the family of the late locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson in their latest right-to-die legal challenge to campaign for disabled people having the right to be helped to die with dignity.

But in a written judgment, the court said: “In its decision in the case of Nicklinson and Lamb v. the United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the applications inadmissible. The decision is final.”

However, Mr Lamb said judges also ruled that he hadn’t exhausted all domestic possibilities as his case hasn’t been heard at the Supreme Court on its own merits.

Mr Lamb supported Mr Nicklinson’s widow Jane in a claim at the UK’s highest court, that the law criminalising assisted suicide was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, which was rejected last June.

Speaking after yesterday’s ruling, he said: “My initial thought was that it was a disappointment.

“But when I spoke to my new legal team, they said my case is somewhat different to Tony’s and we should take it through the courts in this country so it can be dealt with on its own merits.

“The next step will be my legal team getting a case together so we can start from the beginning and take on the domestic courts.

“It’s a new start, so we are still hopeful – more so than we have ever been. This time we are a little more armed with what will happen along the way.

“It has opened the doors to a new future. When I first started this, it was quite scary. I wasn’t eating properly and I was in a right mess. Now I am actually looking forward to this new fight.

“This time you will see something different about me.”

He added: “The irony of it all is that you have cases where the courts can decide ‘yes, we will end a life’, like with comas and things like that, but there are others like me where we think, ‘Enough is enough, I can’t take it any more,’ but you are powerless.”

Lawyer Saimo Chahal, representing the Nicklinson family, said the judgement was “not the end of the road”, adding: “This highlights that the law as it stands and as practised and implemented is out of sync and that this hypocrisy cannot stand unchallenged much longer...

“There are many more people coming forward to say that this is an unacceptable state of affairs.”

Mr Nicklinson suffered from locked-in syndrome and died in 2012 aged 58 – just days after losing a High Court case to allow doctors to end his life.

The civil engineer was paralysed from the neck down after a stroke in 2005 and described his life as a ‘living nightmare’. He could only communicate using a special computer which tracked his eye movements.