Lawyers say they'll appeal High Court judgment in hearing over GMC guidance for doctors on assisted suicide

Lawyers for a 50-year-old British man with locked-in syndrome have announced they will appeal the judgment handed down by the High Court today, which found that guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC) on assisted suicide is lawful.

The judgment follows a hearing, which took place at the High Court on Thursday 25 June 2015, where lawyers for the man, known only as Martin, argued that the current GMC guidance on assisted suicide breaches his human rights.

Martin argued that the current GMC guidance disproportionately interferes with his right under Article 8 and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as it prevents him from receiving proper medical advice on how and when he can be assisted to commit suicide.

Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day has confirmed her client will appeal the decision handed down by the High Court today. She argues the current GMC guideline is having a chilling effect on those working within the medical profession and is preventing her client, and those in a similar position to him, from receiving full and proper medical advice on end-of-life choices as well as the medical reports required to access Dignitas’ service.

Rosa Curling from the human rights team at the law firm Leigh Day, who represents Martin, said:

“We have advised our client to appeal today’s judgment on the current GMC guidance and we are hopeful that the Court of Appeal will reach a different decision in due course.

“We welcome, however, the confirmation contained in today’s judgment regarding the effect of the current DPP policy. The judgment confirms that generally if an individual has a clear and settled intent to commit suicide and if someone assists him or her to do so, that individual being wholly motivated by compassion and having not persuaded the individual to commit suicide, the likelihood of their prosecution is low.

“This is a crucial clarification for those who seek assistance from others with their suicide and those who are willing to provide compassionate assistance. The DPP’s policy does not spell this out, which has resulted in confusion in the past.”