Police who investigated the death of a young rugby player at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland have called for clearer guidelines for doctors after revealing that his GP had known of his wish to kill himself six months before he died.
The following report, in today’s Telegraph, is a clear illustration of why the current English prosecution guidelines respecting assisted dying/suicide are entirely inadequate and misdirected. Instead of clarifying, as they were required by the courts to do, the new guidelines instead further confuse the issue. Why should the police be involved before the event? Prosecution only applies to acts committed, not to acts about to be committed or in the process of commission. If the police are to be involved before an assisted suicide, wherever it takes place, then the law should be changed, assisted dying should be legalised, and a rationale should be given for involving the police at this stage of the process. I do not think a good reason can be given for involving the police before someone has chosen and has been assisted to die. Whatever provisions are required, involvement of as blunt an instrument as the police during preparation for assisted dying would be entirely out-of-place. It is a situation of the greatest intimacy and delicacy. The picture painted by Tim Ross in this article shows that the situation is now entirely confused. This is surely not what Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, had in mind. Tim Ross’s article follows:
Detectives who worked on the case of Daniel James, who died aged 23 three years ago after a training accident left him paralysed, said his GP saw him several times in the months before he died.
The doctor also witnessed a formal declaration of Daniel’s intentions two weeks before he travelled to the centre in Zurich.
But police were only alerted on the day that Daniel flew to Switzerland with his parents, which was too late to attempt to convince him to change his plans, because the doctor wanted to preserve patient confidentiality.
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