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High Court to hear fresh 'right to die' bid

17 July 2017 National News


A man who is not expected to live beyond nine months is to begin the latest attempt to change the law on assisted dying.

Noel Conway, a retired college lecturer, successfully went to the Court Of Appeal in April after he was denied permission to bring a judicial review over the ban on helping a person to die.

The 67-year-old, from Shrewsbury, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in November 2014 and uses ventilation equipment and a wheelchair.

His lawyers say that when he has less than six months left and still has mental capacity, “he would wish to be able to enlist assistance to bring about a peaceful and dignified death”.

Mr Conway wants a declaration that the Suicide Act 1961 is incompatible with European laws on respect for private and family life, and protection from discrimination.

The case Noel Conway v Ministry of Justice will be heard by three judges over five days at the High Court and could have major implications for the right to die in the UK.

Image: Mr Conway with his stepson Terry McCusker and wife Carol

Mr Conway’s case is the latest high-profile attempt to change the law in the UK and follows recent developments around the world.

Tom Davies, from Dignity in Dying, said: “Other countries just like us are managing to take hold of this issue and create more compassionate, safer laws that we could have in this country too.”

He names Canada as an example, along with US states California and Colorado.

However, campaigners like Roger Symes from Not Dead Yet said he would be opposing Mr Conway’s challenge, as it puts vulnerable people at risk.

“What we’ve seen in other countries that legalise assisted suicide is that it starts off as only being available to a very small group and then it widens and widens.

“So anybody else who thinks: ‘this is nothing to do with me, this is just about one poor man who needs help to die’, it’s not that at all.

“It’s actually about how we treat people in society who need help for whatever reason.”

Mr Conway’s legal fight follows a , who was paralysed after a stroke.

However, in 2014, the Supreme Court decided against Mr Nicklinson’s widow and said UK law on assisted dying was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

A vote in the House of Commons in 2015 led to a bill to amend the law being overwhelmingly rejected by 330 MPs to 118.


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