Tony Nicklinson suffers from 'locked-in syndrome' and wants a doctor to be able 'lawfully' to end his life (Sky)
Tony Nicklinson suffers from 'locked-in syndrome' and wants doctor to be able to 'lawfully' to end his life (Sky)

A high court has ruled that the case of Tony Nicklinson, who has Locked-in Syndrome and wants to be allowed to die without murder charges being brought against anyone who helps him, should be brought forward.

The decision was announced by Mr Justice Charles, who was asked to decide on a preliminary "strike out" application in the case made by the Ministry of Justice. During the hearing, he heard arguments that it was not for the courts to act, but parliament.

His ruling means that Nicklinson's case can proceed to a full hearing, where medical evidence will be heard.

Tony Nicklinson, 57, from Melksham, Wiltshire, suffers from locked-in syndrome following a stroke in 2005. He can communicate only via a Perspex board or by using his Eye-Blink computer.

Nicklinson, who is married with two grown-up daughters, wants a doctor to "lawfully" end his life, which he has described as as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable."

He was seeking a declaration so that anyone who would assist him in ending his own life would have a defence against any murder charge.

Nicklinson's wife Jane, a former nurse, previously mentioned that there has been huge public support for his bid to allow a doctor to end his life.

"The only way to relieve Tony's suffering will be to kill him. There is absolutely nothing else that can be done for him," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "It is what he wants and we all - the girls and I and his sister and all my family - are totally behind him.

"If you knew the kind of person that he was before, a life like this is unbearable for him. People think he wants to die straight away. He doesn't - he just wants to know that when the time comes he has a way out."

The ruling could have dramatic implications for the murder laws in the UK.

At a previous hearing, David Perry QC, representing the Ministry of Justice, said Mr Nicklinson "is saying the court should positively authorise and permit as lawful the deliberate taking of his life".

He added: "That is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless Parliament were to say otherwise."

"No matter how tragic the circumstances or situation, it was not a reason for distorting the settled law," he added.