Assisted dying: Terminally ill man's judicial review rejected

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Phil Newby’s lawyers told a hearing in October he faced an “inhumane and intolerable” deterioration

A terminally ill man challenging the law on assisted dying has had an appeal for a judicial review refused.

Phil Newby, 49, from Rutland, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2014 and cannot walk or use his hands and lower arms.

In November, he lost his High Court case, with judges saying court was “not an appropriate forum for the discussion of the sanctity of life”.

Mr Newby said he was “disappointed” with the Court of Appeal’s decision.

It is illegal in England and Wales to encourage or assist a death and holds a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Mr Newby’s case proposed that judges should thoroughly examine a large amount of expert evidence – including from countries where assisted dying is legal – before deciding whether the law is incompatible with his human rights.

He has raised more than £48,000 for the legal challenge as he wants people to have a right to choose a “civilised ending”.

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Phil Newby

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The father-of-two said “an intelligently crafted assisted dying law is desperately needed”

It comes after MPs discussed assisted dying at a Westminster Hall debate last week.

Mr Newby said: “Whilst I am thoroughly disappointed that the appeal court has refused my case a hearing, this decision has made it clear that judges will not engage on the issue of assisted dying, which means that it is down to Parliament to act.

“Support for an inquiry into the evidence on assisted dying is growing among MPs, as demonstrated by the debate last week.”

He added: “There is an abundance of evidence demonstrating the impact that the current law is having on families like mine up and down the country, and of safe practice in the many other countries that developed laws that provide dying people with choice.”

Dr Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing, welcomed the decision.

“Evidence from around the world shows removing these protections puts vulnerable people at risk of abuse and of coming under pressure, real or perceived to end their lives prematurely, he said.

“Indeed, in the US states of Oregon and Washington a majority of those ending their lives cite fear of becoming a burden as a reason for doing so.”

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