Noel Conway in the UK High Court

Noel Conway in the UK High Court

On 17 July the UK High Court began hearing the legal challenge of a terminally ill UK man, Noel Conway, who wants the right to die. The Noel Conway v Ministry of Justice case, which is supported by Dignity in Dying UK, was heard by three judges over four days. Noel was too weak to attend the court in person. A judgment is not expected until autumn [in the Northern Hemisphere].On April 12 Noel, who had previously had his case rejected by the UK High Court, won an appeal against that decision.

Richard Gordon QC, the lawyer representing Noel Conway, said “The choices facing the claimant are therefore stark and unpalatable: seek to bring about his own death while he is physically able to do so, but before he is ready to do so, or await death with no control over when and how it comes.” The court has been told that section two of the act, which criminalises any attempt to encourage or assist another person in killing themselves, is incompatible with article eight of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees a right to respect for private life and personal autonomy.

noel conway and supporters 19 july 2017 cropped

Click for BBC News 17 July 2017 ‘Terminally ill man Noel Conway in right-to-die fight’ – this article includes a 2.07 min video where Noel says “I want to be able to say goodbye at the right time” and explains that “I could be virtually catatonic and conceivably be in a locked-in syndrome – that to me would be a living hell. That prospect is one I cannot accept.”

Click for article in The Guardian 18 July 2017 ‘Suicide Act breaches human right to dignity, high court told’

supporters of noel outside court

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:“The current law is failing terminally ill people like Noel, Christie and thousands of others by denying them their dignity, stripping away their rights and freedoms and forcing them to choose between horrific scenarios most of us can hardly imagine. Dying people deserve better – they deserve our kindness and compassion; they deserve to be listened to.” Click for Press Release 17 July 2017 by Dignity in Dying UK ‘High court hearing for judicial review on assisted dying begins today’

Read article in The Guardian 12 April 2017 ‘Terminally ill former lecturer wins right to fight assisted dying ban’ 

Read article in The Daily Mail 13 April 2017 about Noel Conway’s personal story

“Because I cannot end my own life without some assistance, I am faced with severely restricted choices and with a death that to me would be unacceptable.”

See Noel’s letter ‘My letter to you’, which was shared by Dignity in Dying on 7 June 2017.