Noel Conway watches right to die case wearing oxygen mask

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Jul 20, 2017
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Noel Conway, who is terminally ill, wants the High Court to rule that the law criminalising assisted dying breaches human rights

Tom Pilston for The Times

Noel Conway appeared yesterday via a court via video link in a wheelchair and wearing an oxygen mask to watch his landmark legal challenge for the right to die.

Conway, 67, a grandfather and retired college lecturer from Shrewsbury, is challenging the law on assisted dying which makes it an offence for someone to help another to die. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, diagnosed in November 2014 and is not expected to live for more than a year. He spends 20 hours a day on a ventilation device and says he feels “entombed”.

He has not been well enough to attend the hearing at the High Court in London, which started on Monday before Lord Justice Sales, Mrs Justice Whipple and Mr Justice Garnham. However, yesterday, Conway attended Telford county court accompanied by his wife, Carol, to watch the case via video link.

He was cheered by a group of supporters as he arrived at court. Supporters held placards which read “Give me choice over my death” and “I’m with Noel”.

At the week-long hearing lawyers will try to persuade three judges that Conway and others like him should have a choice over his own death. Previously, Conway has said: “I’m going to die anyway. It’s a question of whether I die with or without suffering and on my own terms or not.”

His legal action is supported by the campaign group Dignity in Dying. Conway wants a declaration that the Suicide Act 1961 is incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which relates to respect for private and family life, and Article 14, which protects from discrimination.

Conway has already been to the Court of Appeal to win permission to bring his challenge over what he calls his “fight for choice at the end of life”.

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