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NOVEMBER 2014

Director of Public Prosecutions has made assisted suicide easier, campaigners claim


Up until now a suspect “acting in his or her capacity as a medical doctor, nurse, other healthcare professional, a professional carer (whether for payment or not)” was more likely to be prosecuted.


But the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, has now amended this criterion so that it only applies if the victim was in his or her care. 10


Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director for the Care Not Killing Alliance, accused Ms Saunders of having "rewritten her prosecution policy so that doctors can now be involved in assisting suicide without fear of prosecution, provided they don't have a professional relationship with those they 'help'". 11


Writing on his blog Mr Saunders said the clarification is "very concerning indeed". "The Director of Public Prosecutions is effectively at a stroke of her pen decriminalising assisted suicide by doctors and other health care professionals as long as they don't have an existing professional care relationship with the patient," he said.


However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has denied the claims, saying that guidance from DPP Alison Saunders was only a clarification of existing rules.  "Assisting or encouraging suicide remains illegal and nothing in these guidelines offers immunity against prosecution." 12


Life has issued a press release in which they state, “This is a deceptively large change in the attitude of the CPS to assisted suicide prosecutions, and seriously weakens the law against assisting a suicide. It is no wonder that pro-euthanasia fanatics like Michael Irwin and Philip Nitschke have welcomed it. Dr Irwin, indeed, called it a ‘wonderful softening’ that would ‘make life easier’ for people like him. It can easily be perceived as giving carte blanche to doctors to ‘help’ people to end their own lives as long as they do not have a professional relationship with the victim.” 13




10 http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.uk/

11 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-2796700/No-immunity-assisted-suicide.html

12 https://uk.news.yahoo.com/no-immunity-assisted-suicide-033630735.html#ELZ9ioE

13 http://lifecharity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/LIFE-PR-on-CPS-AS-guidelines-171014.pdf

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