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England and Wales: Parents Will Not Be Prosecuted for Son’s Suicide

(Dec. 17, 2008) The Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales has made the decision, issued on December 9, 2008, not to prosecute the parents of a 23-year-old paralyzed man who accompanied him to Switzerland to a suicide clinic. The parents faced prosecution in England for aiding and abetting a suicide; under the Suicide Act 1961, that action is punishable by up to 14 years of imprisonment. They had helped their son with documentation and payments to the Swiss suicide clinic and had arranged to take him to Switzerland. The Director of Prosecutions concluded that there was enough evidence to prosecute the couple but to do so was not in the public interest and would be unlikely to result in a custodial sentence. (Director of Public Prosecutions, Decision on Prosecution – The Death by Suicide of Daniel James, Dec. 9, 2008, available at; Suicide Act 1961, 9 & 10 Eliz. 2, c. 60, Aug. 3, 1961, available at; Simon de Bruxelles, Frances Gibb, & Jack Malvern, No Charges to Be Brought in Daniel James Assisted Dying Case, THE TIMES (London), Dec. 10, 2008, available at