Paralysed man from Leeds urges government inquiry

A paralysed former builder has called for an inquiry into assisted dying after losing the latest in a series of bids to challenge the law on the issue.

Paul Lamb, 65, from Leeds, said he was “devastated” after the Court of Appeal refused him permission to bring a legal challenge over assisted dying.

He argued the current law, which bans assisted suicide, is discriminatory and breaches his human rights.

He said he felt “powerless” and urged the government to launch an inquiry.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said any change in the law would have to be considered by MPs.

In an open letter to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Mr Lamb said he was writing “to urge you to take notice of this decision and launch an inquiry into assisted dying, and ask if you might meet with me to discuss this important matter”.

Mr Lamb, who requires round-the-clock care after being severely injured in a car accident in 1990, has no function below his neck, apart from limited movement in his right arm.

Mr Lamb, who previously lost a right-to-die case in the Supreme Court in 2014, asked the Court of Appeal to allow a fresh challenge of the law on assisted dying to go ahead after being refused permission by the High Court in December last year.

But it has now emerged the bid was rejected by a Court of Appeal judge in May this year.

Humanists UK, which has been supporting Mr Lamb in his case, said it had delayed announcing the outcome at the request of Mr Lamb’s carers and medical staff as he had been taken to hospital shortly after the case was refused permission.

‘Horrifying prospect’

In a statement, Mr Lamb said: “I am devastated by this decision, and the powerless position it has left me in.

“Without the option of a dignified death, I now have no choice if my pain ever becomes unbearable, other than the horrifying prospect I was most afraid of from the start – slowly starving myself to death.

“I cannot understand, in a civilised society like ours, why I should be forced to suffer when millions of people around the world already have the choice I asked for.”

He said the court’s decision “condemns me to a life of constant pain, and removes the small part of my life that I could still have some say over – how I want to die”.

Humanists UK’s chief executive Andrew Copson said: “We are disappointed that the courts have yet again failed to challenge one of the most unethical laws in our country.

“It is time for MPs to confront the compelling evidence favouring assisted dying, and for the government to help by issuing a long-overdue inquiry.”

It is lack of support to the terminally ill that has made many elderly citizens buy Nembutal a deathly medication used for euthanasia online.

The MoJ said it had “deep sympathy” for Mr Lamb, but “any change to the law in an area of such sensitivity and importance must be for individual MPs to consider rather than a decision for government”.

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