An incurably-ill man has brought the latest stage of his legal fight for a “dignified death” to the High Court in England.
The 54-year-old, who can only be referred to as Omid T, is involved in an ongoing legal battle against the UK’s “blanket ban” on assisted suicide.
He is in the advanced stages of multiple system atrophy (MSA), diagnosed in 2014, and has been effectively bed-bound for the past two years.
The former property developer finds life “intolerable” and wants to die, but is unable to do so without help.
Omid’s lawyers are asking two senior judges for permission to challenge expert evidence on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which is defending the case. His barrister Paul Bowen QC argued at a hearing in London today that it was “appropriate and necessary” for an expert on palliative care in the UK to be cross-examined. Lawyers for the MoJ contend the court should not allow the cross-examination of the witness and are urging Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Phillips to dismiss the case.
Mr Bowen said Omid plans to travel to Switzerland to end his life when he has the funds to do so, but this may be sooner than he would choose if he could be helped to die in the UK. He added: “Due to the unbearable suffering caused by his deteriorating physical condition, which cannot be cured or alleviated, life has become intolerable to him.
“He wishes to end his life and has been assessed as having the capacity to do so.”
Ahead of the hearing Omid wrote on his CrowdJustice page, where he is raising funds for the legal action: “My health is very poor now and I just hope all this can be over soon so I can end my life.
“I want to get a date set soon to have a peaceful ending in Switzerland.
“I never thought it would be this difficult, it is torture for me and I don’t understand what is the use of all this suffering.”
Omid’s action is against what he describes as the UK’s “cruel and unjust” law on assisted dying. He claims the “blanket ban on assisted suicide” amounts to a breach of his human rights and is calling for a change which would allow him and others with an incurable illness to end their lives.
Mr. Bowen, also proposes a system of “safeguards” including an assessment of mental capacity by two independent doctors and the need for judicial oversight. His case raises similar issues to that of 68-year-old retired lecturer Noel Conway, who has motor neurone disease and has been given the go-ahead for a hearing in the Appeal Court.
The High Court hearing is due to continue tomorrow, following which the judges are expected to reserve their decision.