Tony Nicklinson, 57, has locked-in syndrome after suffering a stroke in 2005, which means he is mentally sound, but paralysed and so can only communicate by blinking into a voice synthesiser.

He describes his life as “intolerable” and has sought legal action for the right of a doctor to carry out euthanasia and bring his

“suffering to end”, without being charged for murder.

Tony’s wife, Jane Nicklinson, told BBC Radio 4 death was the only way to relieve his suffering.

“We are asking for it to be legal for someone to end his life,” said the former nurse.

“He can’t do anything. He’s completely paralysed and he can’t speak. If he has an itch I have to scratch it for him.”

Jane adds that her husband did not want to die immediately, but wanted to be able to choose.

She also said it was the responsibility of the law to move along with advancing medical practice.

“Twenty years ago Tony would have died. But people are being kept alive with such terrible conditions. Medical practice has become so much better but the law has not progressed with that. He says now if he had known what life would be like for him now, he would have just laid down and died and would not have called for help.”

Nicklinson was a former rugby player and had a high-flying job as a corporate manager in Dubai, where he went skydiving and bridge-climbing in his free time.

Jane described her husband as “a real alpha male” who was very active before his stroke. “He was tall, dark and handsome,” she says of the night they met on a blind date in Dubai. The two later also lived in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Britain with their two daughters. Nicklinson chaired a sports club that ran rugby events in the United Arab Emirates, mixing with elite players and officials.

“It was a dream come true for him,” his wife said.

Jane said she and their two grown daughters didn’t initially agree with her husband’s choice to die. “It was very upsetting and obviously it’s not what we want, but it’s what he wants and it’s his life,” she said.

He has refused since 2007 to take any life-prolonging drugs recommended by doctors, including heart drugs or blood thinners.

He only takes medicines to make himself more comfortable, such as those to reduce muscle spasms.

David Perry QC, representing the Ministry of Justice, said asking the court to authorise the deliberate taking of life “is not, and cannot be, the law of England and Wales unless parliament were to say otherwise.”

However, Paul Bowen, acting for Nicklinson at a recent hearing, said the Ministry of Justice’s argument was not strong enough.

He said euthanasia was the only means “by which Tony’s suffering may be brought to an end and his fundamental common law rights of autonomy and dignity may be vindicated”.


Picture: Tony and Jane Nicklinson