Opinion Former Article

BHA: Paul Lamb ‘L’ waives right to anonymity in assisted dying court case

Paul Lamb, a claimant seeking the right to a doctor-assisted death, has waived his right to anonymity.  He was previously referred to only as ‘L’.  Last month, the Court of Appeal decided that he can be joined to the legal case of the late Tony Nicklinson, who was also seeking to establish the right to a doctor-assisted death.  The British Humanist Association (BHA) are intervening in support of Paul’s legal case, and welcomes the brave step he has taken in revealing his identity.

Paul is 57, and was immobilised after a road accident in 1990.  He says that in the past twenty-three years he has endured a life which is monotonous and painful, and that he no longer wants to live.  His case to establish the right to a doctor-assisted death will be joined to that of Jane Nicklinson, who is pursuing a claim in her own right under Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention.  The two cases will now be heard in the Court of Appeal in May.  The BHA has intervened in both cases.

Tony Nicklinson suffered a catastrophic stroke in 2005 which left him with locked-in syndrome, and  he died in August last year after losing his legal case.  As well as bringing the legal case, he was also a passionate campaigner who brought the issue of assisted dying to the public’s attention.  Public attitudes are overwhelmingly in favour of a new approach on assisted dying: A poll conducted by YouGov in September last year found that 81% of UK adults support the notion of mentally competent individuals with incurable or terminal diseases who wish to end their lives receiving medical assistance to do so, without those assisting them facing prosecution.

Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented ‘Paul Lamb is taking a courageous step in waiving his right to anonymity and we fully support him and his legal case. We want to establish the right to a doctor-assisted death for mentally competent adults who are suffering incurably, permanently incapacitated, or who have made a clear and informed decision to end their life but are unable to do so independently.  In the absence of legislation on assisted dying, we have to establish the right to a doctor-assisted death through the courts but we also hope that Paul’s case will help to stimulate public debate on this issue, and convince Parliament to listen to the massive majority opinion in this country and legalise assisted dying.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

Previous BHA news article – Court of Appeal allows ‘L’ to join Tony Nicklinson Claim:
http://humanism.org.uk/2013/03/20/court-of-appeal-allows-l-to-join-tony-nicklinson-claim/

Previous BHA news article - New poll shows strong public support for assisted dying:
http://humanism.org.uk/2012/09/07/news-1108/

The BHA’s campaign on Assisted Dying:
http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/assisted-dying/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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