Assisted dying case denied permission in the High Court

30 March, 2017

Humanist and assisted dying campaigner Noel Conway

Noel Conway, a man with motor neurone disease, has been denied permission by the High Court to bring a challenge the illegality of assisted dying. Noel, who is supported by Dignity in Dying in his case, is seeking a declaration of incompatibility between the law on suicides in England and Wales and human rights law, and has announced he will appeal the decision to refuse. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed its disappointment with the outcome of the hearing and its support for Noel.

An active humanist, Noel is terminally ill and has only months left to live. He is seeking to challenge the illegality of assisted dying, specifically for individuals with six months or less left. The BHA believes that individuals who are not terminally ill but incurably suffering, like Paul Lamb, who brought the previous assisted dying case with Tony Nicklinson, should also have the right to die.

Separately, a man called Omid, who has multiple system atrophy and so has years left to live, is scheduled to have his own permission hearing seeking to change the law in line with such a broader approach. He is currently crowdfunding for his case.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We are disappointed that Noel has been denied permission to challenge the law on assisted dying. We will be reading the reasoning closely and are glad that his lawyers have already indicated their willingness to appeal.

‘It is wrong that individuals who are terminally ill or incurably suffering are denied the choice and dignity to die at the time and in the manner of their choosing. The public overwhelmingly supports a change in the law on this issue and we will continue to do everything we can to help bring this about.’


For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or on 0781 55 89 636.

Read the BHA’s previous comment on the Conway case:

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on assisted dying:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.