Continuing pursuit of right-to-die challenge was campaigner’s ‘only hope’
The “only hope” of an incurably-ill man who ended his life in a Swiss clinic was that other people would continue challenging the UK’s right-to-die law, his solicitor said.
Omid T died on 4 October at the Lifecircle clinic in Switzerland.
The 54-year-old was awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge launched in March 2017 against the UK’s ban on assisted dying, citing it as incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The challenge to legislation will cease unless another person comes forward.
The former property developer was diagnosed with multiple systems atrophy in 2014 and was effectively bed bound for more than two years.
The rare nervous system disorder causes problems with balance, movement and the autonomic nervous system that controls functions including breathing and bladder control.
Saimo Chahal QC, representing Omid on behalf of Bindmans LLP said: “Omid had hoped to see all of the 11 experts as well as many other witnesses who had lined up to support his case give evidence and then for the court to support the case.
“He said that his only hope was that somebody else would take up the challenge, and take up what he had started with such high hopes and conviction.
“He was deeply unhappy that the legal case that he started 19 months ago had still not given him any resolution and that it was caught up in a quagmire of procedural difficulties.”
Ms Chahal confirmed that the issue will come to an end in the courts unless other people come forward.
Ms Chahal has represented a number of clients in hearings on the right to die including Tony Nicklinson, a locked-in syndrome sufferer who died in 2012 after refusing food.
She explained: “It was sad for me as his lawyer to witness Omid’s utter frustration over the delays in his case and the procedural obstacles which denied him a full hearing at which the evidence could be examined as to whether a law change was appropriate and proportionate.
“A judgment on this issue is still awaited and will come too late for Omid.”
Two campaign groups that supported Omid’s UK legal challenge paid tribute to him on Thursday and also called for a change in the law on assisted dying in the UK.
Phil Cheatle, co-ordinator of My Death-My Decision, said: “All Omid wanted was a peaceful end, given his hopeless situation.
“Sufferers like Omid deserve the option of a medically assisted death if that is their well-considered, persistent choice, when there are no other acceptable alternatives.”
Chief executive of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson, said: “It is a tragedy, and also a national scandal, that Omid had to go to Switzerland to die with dignity.”