Judges reject assisted suicide courts challenge

An appeal against the change in guidance over assisted suicide prosecutions has been rejected by the High Court today.

Last year the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders changed the guidance on assisted suicide to allow more discretion about when to bring criminal charges.

Nikki and Merv Kenward, supported by the Christian Legal Centre said the change in guidance meant doctors were less likely to be prosecuted.

Judges unanimously rejected the appeal today.

In October last year, Alison Saunders amended guidelines which had said prosecution was more likely if the individual was a healthcare professional.

The revised guidelines said prosecution was only more likely if it was a healthcare professional that had a relationship with the victim.

According to the Kenwards, the amendment would make it easier for doctors to avoid prosecution and said the change had been made in a ‘whimsical’ way.

Speaking after the ruling the Kenwards said they would now appeal.

In September 2015, MPs resoundingly rejected assisted suicide by an overwhelming majority. At the time, CARE boss Nola Leach said: “The legalisation of assisted suicide would have been a fundamental departure from our nation’s compassionate heritage and a dangerous mistake to make. Far from being broken, the current law protects both doctors and patients and assisted suicide would only undermine that protection and parliament today has overwhelmingly rejected the arguments calling for a radical change to that law.”


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