Thursday, 30 July 2009

Debbie Purdy's appeal

Well, Debbie has won her appeal in the House of Lords. I've sent her an email saying well done. But, I must say, when I saw the outcome of her appeal, with its unanimous instruction to the Director of Public Prosecutions to clarify the grounds on which he would or would not prosecute someone like Omar accompanying Debbie to take her own life at the Zurich apartment known as ‘Dignitas’, I had mixed feelings. I was pleased for her, because she has put her life on hold trying to exorcise the fear of either going to die alone or risking Omar’s prosecution. And now, as she said, she can get on with her life. Yet at the same time, I was aware that it is part of a bigger campaign. Accompanying her in front of the cameras was a representative of Dignity in Dying. This is not merely about accompanying someone to commit suicide abroad, even though that is what the Law Lords’ ruling was about. It is about the whole issue of assisted suicide.

From his initial comments, it sounded as if Keir Starmer QC, the DPP, is intending to issue interim clarification for Debbie (and presumably similar cases) by September, and then to hold a public consultation in the autumn with a view to issuing a definitive document in the spring of next year. It seems to me that we should welcome that - and participate in the consultation. This is an occasion to do something. You know what they say about good men doing nothing.

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