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On the wrong track

The House of Lords in Purdy forced the DPP to issue offence-specific guidance on assisted suicide, but Jacqueline A Laing argues that the resulting interim policy adopted last September is unconstitutional, discriminatory and illegal

19 January 2010

In July 2009, the law lords in R (on the application of Purdy) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2009] All ER (D) 335 required that the DPP publish guidelines for those contemplating assisting another to commit suicide. The DPP produced a consultation paper (23 September 2009) seeking to achieve a public consensus, albeit outside Parliament, on the factors to be taken into account in determining when not to prosecute assisted suicide.

Although the consultation exercise is hailed by proponents of legislative change as a democratic, consensus-building and autonomy-enhancing initiative, there is much to suggest that, on the contrary, the guidance is unconstitutional, arbitrary and at odds with human rights law, properly understood.

Unconstitutional

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