Nicklinson family appeal for help with appeal costs

The family of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson are appealing for public support to help fund their right-to-die campaign.

Mr Nicklinson, 58, died last year, a week after he lost a landmark legal bid to end his life with a doctor's help.

The father of two had been refusing food and contracted pneumonia after he was left "crestfallen" by the court's decision. He died at his home in Melksham surrounded by family on August 22.

They vowed to continue his campaign, and have now launched an internet page to help raise £5,000 towards legal costs.

His widow, Jane Nicklinson, said she has been touched by public support following her husband's death. The appeal for donations has been triggered by the family's inability to get legal aid to help with the financial burden.

Mrs Nicklinson said today: "I have boxes full of letters and emails from members of the public, people who didn't know Tony, people who did - people from across society.

"That support has meant an incredible amount to me and the family, and we can't thank them enough for that.

"This is just one step on the ladder, but it is a step in the right direction. We are doing this for Tony and those who support him."

Their case is expected to be heard this summer and, if granted permission, would allow them to challenge the High Court decision for Mrs Nicklinson to take over the right-to-die case on her late husband's behalf. Any verdict would be significant in what is considered by some to be a test case.

Mrs Nicklinson admits it is likely to be a long campaign, fraught with legal technicalities, but said the family is determined to fight Mr Nicklinson's cause.

She said: "We are asking for help to cover court fees, copying charges for the volumes of legal authorities which need to be prepared, travel costs and other sundry expenses related to the case. This money is not for lawyers' fees, but the other expenses to do with running a legal case."

Mrs Nicklinson said she would be forced to cover any shortfall, while surplus money would be donated to charity. The first stage of the appeal is to raise £5,000, although the family expects these costs to rise.

Mr Nicklinson was a keen sportsman until he was paralysed by a stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005.

Three judges sitting at the High Court in London referred to the "terrible predicament" of Mr Nicklinson and described his case as "deeply moving and tragic".

But Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur unanimously agreed it would be wrong for the court to depart from the long-established legal position that "voluntary euthanasia is murder, however understandable the motives may be".

They said doctors and solicitors who encouraged or assisted another person to commit suicide were "at real risk of prosecution".

The judges also heard that a second applicant known as "Martin" needed assistance to end his life.

The judges were told he suffered a massive stroke in August 2008 and wanted to be allowed a "dignified suicide".

Refusing the stricken men judicial review, they agreed that the current law did not breach human rights and it was for Parliament, not the courts, to decide whether it should be changed.

Donations can be made by visiting sponsume.com and typing Tony Nicklinson into the search bar.

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