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R (on the application of DEBBIE PURDY) (Appellant) v DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS (Respondent) & OMAR PUENTE (Interested Party) & SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN (Intervener)

The absence of a crime-specific policy relating to assisted suicide, identifying the facts and circumstances that the Director of Public Prosecutions would take into account when deciding whether to prosecute an individual for assisting another person to commit suicide, did not make the operation and effect of the Suicide Act 1961 s.2(1) unlawful and did not mean that it was not in accordance with law for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.8(2).

3 March 2009

The appellant (P) appealed against a decision [2008] EWHC 2565 (Admin) that the DPP was not required to promulgate an offence-specific policy identifying the facts and circumstances he would take into account when deciding whether to prosecute an individual for assisting another person to commit suicide. P, who suffered a debilitating illness, had declared her wish to travel to a country where “assisted suicide“ was lawful to end her life when it became utterly unbearable. She wished to know whether her husband would be prosecuted under the Suicide Act 1961 s.2(1) if, in those circumstances, he aided and abetted her suicide. No prosecution could be brought without the consent of the DPP under s.2(4) of the Act. P had asked the DPP to promulgate the offence-specific policy but the DPP informed P that the only policy he applied was that set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, that none of his public policy statements set out circumstances in which a prosecution should never be ...

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