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Right-to-die campaign ends at the ECtHR but the fight is far from over

Saimo Chahal QC has already been approached by a dozen people ready to revisit the issue

16 July 2015

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The widow of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb today lost their case at the European Court of Human Rights, which argued sufferers of heavily debilitating diseases should have the right-to-die.

Jane Nicklinson, whose husband suffered from locked-in syndrome, complained under article 8 that UK courts failed to determine the compatibility of the law in the UK on assisted suicide with her and her husband's right to respect for private and family life.

Tony Lamb, paralysed after a road accident more than 20 years ago, complained his rights under articles 6, 8, 13, and 14 were infringed by the failure to provide him with the opportunity to obtain court permission to allow a volunteer to administer lethal drugs to him with his consent.

Saimo Chahal QC, who acted for Jane Nicklinson, said that the campaign for assisted suicide was far from over.

Solicitors Journal asked Chahal when right-to-die would ever be reconsidered by the courts, to which Chahal responded she had already been approached by a dozen people who want to revisit the issue.

'It's a question of investigating funding at the moment,' she said, 'so there's no shortage of people who want to take their case before the courts again.

'The Falconer Bill doesn't deal with the issue, because neither Paul nor Tony were terminally ill or had less than six months to live.'

Chahal highlighted the recent news of the Barker family, who are fundraising in Wales to send their mother with MND to Dignitas.

'This highlights that the law as it stands and is practised and implemented is out of sync with what people need, and that this hypocrisy cannot stand unchallenged much longer in England and Wales.'

The Bindmans partner said people think the way you end your life is just as important as the way in which you live it.

'That's not just for the person who is about to end their life but for their families, because of the legacy it leaves behind, the memories it leaves behind. A dignified death can leave wonderful memories and an undignified death leaves trauma,' she said.

Laura Clenshaw is the managing editor of Solicitors Journal


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