Tony Nicklinson had a stroke in 2005. He was paralysed and could only move his head and his eyes. For many years, he had wanted to end his life, but could not do so without help.
He asked the High Court to state that it would be lawful for a doctor to help him end his life. If they refused, he wanted them to state that the current law was incompatible with his human rights. The court refused to do both of these things. Shortly afterwards, Tony Nicklinson refused food and water and died of pneumonia. His wife Jane continued his case in the Court of Appeal and Paul Lamb was added to the case. Since a car crash in 1991, Lamb had been unable to move anything except his right hand. He also wanted help to end his life.
The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal and the case went up to the Supreme Court.
The main argument was that the ban on assisted dying is incompatible with the right to private life. This right is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The majority of the Supreme Court said that they could decide the ban was incompatible unless Parliament acts to reform it. This was a clear warning to Parliament that if they do not address assisted dying, the courts may.