Divisional Court to hear ‘right to die’ case

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Graeme Hall, instructed by Nancy Collins, partner at Hodge Jones and Allen, are representing Humanists UK in its intervention in the case of R (Noel Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice, being heard before a Divisional Court next week (17 – 20 July).


Mr Conway has motor neurone disease, a terminal and degenerative illness. He seeks a declaration that section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 – which criminalises “complicity in another’s suicide” – is incompatible with his right to private and family life under Article 8 ECHR, and his right to freedom from discrimination under Article 14 ECHR. His case is about the impact of the current law on adults who are terminally ill and have less than six months to live, who wish to die, but as a result of disability cannot end their own lives unaided and need the assistance of others.


Humanists UK was given permission to intervene in the case in recognition of its expertise in relation to assisted dying, summarised here.  Humanists UK campaigns to legalise assisted dying across the UK.  It wholly supports Mr Conway’s case and seeks to build upon the arguments he advances.  Humanists UK’s Chief Executive Andrew Copson said in the press that the deliberate extension of suffering as a matter of public policy is “a stain on our humanity”.


More information is available from Hodge Jones and Allen, here, and from Humanists UK, here. Humanist UK’s intervention has been covered in politics.co.uk.  More background on Noel Conway’s legal fight is available from the Shropshire Humanist.

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