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THE RIGHT TO DIE? Who is Noel Conway? Motor neurone disease sufferer who has taken his right to die fight to the Court of Appeal

Who is Noel Conway?

Noel Conway is a retired college lecturer from Shrewsbury.

The 68-year-old was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in November 2014 and his health continues to deteriorate.

He went to the High Court to fight “for choice at the end of life”.

When he has less than six months to live and retains the mental capacity to make the decision, he wishes to be able to enlist assistance to bring about a “peaceful and dignified” death.

He wants a declaration that the Suicide Act 1961 is incompatible with Article 8, which relates to respect for private and family life, and Article 14, which protects from discrimination.

Mr Conway lives with his wife and son and is now dependent on a ventilator overnight, requires a wheelchair and needs help to dress and eat.

He used to enjoy climbing, skiing, walking and cycling, the BBC reported.

 Terminally-ill Noel Conway outside The Royal Courts of Justice with his wife Carol (left), stepson Terry McCusker (centre back) and Sarah Wootton, CEO of Dignity in Dying (right)

What happened during his High Court battle?

Noel Conway brought a judicial review over the current law on assisted dying.

Mr Conway, who is supported by Dignity in Dying, had already been to the Court of Appeal to win the right for what he calls his “fight for choice at the end of life” to proceed.

He said during the hearing: “I have the support of my loved ones and many thousands of others behind me; people who have donated over £90,000 towards my legal costs and sent heart-warming messages of encouragement to me and my family.

“I have lived my whole life on my own terms, in control of the choices and decisions I make.

“To have the option of an assisted death available in this country would provide me and countless others with great reassurance and comfort.

“It would allow me to decide when I am ready to go, rather than be forced into a premature death by travelling to Dignitas at great emotional and financial cost, or to suffer a traumatic, drawn-out death at home.”


But on October 5, 2017, London’s High Court ruled that Mr Conway, who says he feels “entombed” by his illness, did not have the right to die at a time of his choosing.

In January 2018, Conway received permission to challenge the High Court decision at the Court of Appeal, with the case beginning on May 1.

“I know this decline will continue until my inevitable death,” he said in a statement released before the case.

“This I have sadly come to terms with, but what I cannot accept is that the law in my home country denies me the right to die on my own terms.”

What is motor neurone disease?

Motor neurone disease is a rare condition. About two in every 100,000 Brits develop it each year.

It affects specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing the function of motor neurons to break down.

When this neurodegeneration occurs, everyday activities become increasingly difficult or completely impossible.

Over time, the condition progressively worsens as the muscle weakens and can visibly waste.

The majority of those diagnosed with the disease are given a three-year life expectancy starting from when they first notice the symptoms.

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