New assisted suicide guidance “focused on motivation of the suspect rather than characteristics of the victim” – DPP [updated]

25 February 2010 by

Debbie Purdy

The Director of Public Prosecutions has published the long awaited Crown Prosecution Service guidance on assisted suicide, following the judgment of the House of Lords in the Debbie Purdy case. The DPP website says:

The public can have full confidence in the policy the CPS will follow in deciding whether or not to prosecute cases of assisted suicide, Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said today.

Mr Starmer published the policy after taking account of thousands of responses received as part of what is believed to be the most extensive snapshot of public opinion on assisted suicide since the Suicide Act 1961 was introduced. Nearly 5,000 responses were received by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following the consultation exercise launched in September.

Mr Starmer said: “The policy is now more focused on the motivation of the suspect rather than the characteristics of the victim. The policy does not change the law on assisted suicide. It does not open the door for euthanasia. It does not override the will of Parliament. What it does is to provide a clear framework for prosecutors to decide which cases should proceed to court and which should not.

Click here to read the CPS guidance and here to read a summary of the Purdy case. See also the Dianne Pretty case.

Update – 26 Feb 2010: Commentary on the guidance from the Guardian and The Times

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