Lord Advocate’s statement on assisted suicide

The Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, Keir Starmer QC, issued an Interim Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Assisted Suicide on 23 September 2009. The Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini QC, issued a statement in response:

"The guidance issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales will only apply to cases where an offence of assisting suicide takes place within England and Wales. It will not apply to Scotland.

"The DPP's guidance follows the decision of the House of Lords in the English case of Purdy. This case applies only to England and Wales and to the statutory offence of assisting the suicide of another under section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961. This offence does not apply in Scotland, where, depending on the particular facts and circumstances of the case, the law of homicide may apply.

"The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will give careful consideration to the implications of the DPP's interim guidance, the outcome of his public consultation and developments in other jurisdictions.

"The Crown recognises the importance of this issue, but any change in the current law related to homicide is properly a matter for the Scottish Parliament."