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Guidelines due on assisted suicide.

Summary: Guidelines are due to be published to clarify whether people are likely to be prosecuted if they help relatives commit suicide.

Guidelines are set be published clarifying whether people are likely to be prosecuted if they help relatives or friends commit suicide.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, will outline policy to "bring clarity" to the law on assisted suicide.

The move comes after the Law Lords backed multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy's call for a policy statement on whether people who help someone kill themselves should be prosecuted.

Over 100 Britons have ended their lives at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, but until now friends or relatives who accompany them have not known if they are going to face prosecution.

Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Mr Starmer said prosecutors would examine the youth, health and mental state of the person who killed themselves when they were weighing up whether to bring charges against a relative or family member.

He said: "Would it make a difference if a person was under the age of 18? Does it matter if the person who dies was not suffering from a terminal illness or severe degenerative condition, or if they had a mental illness or learning difficulty?

"Are any of these factors more worthy of sympathy than a criminal trial? If you answer 'yes', you are exercising your discretion whether to prosecute. I think these factors do make a difference, and I will be setting out exactly how later on."

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Sep 23, 2009
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