Doctor accused over euthanasia

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The Independent Online

Dr Michael Irwin, who last week admitted giving "advice and encouragement" to five people to fly to Zurich's Dignitas clinic, stands accused of marketing his services to another ill man. He denies the claim.

The pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying said it received a call last week from an 85-year-old man with cancer of the larynx and Parkinson's disease, complaining that Dr Irwin had encouraged him to contact Dignitas.

A police source said: "We will be asking him whether he has approached people and been marketing himself." The source added: "He appears to have been proactive." Detectives will submit their file on Dr Irwin to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether there is a case against him. Police interviewed him twice last year but did not have enough evidence to prosecute. The maximum penalty in England and Wales for aiding and abetting suicide is 14 years' imprisonment.

Dr Irwin said that the allegation he had been proactively approaching people was "absolute rubbish". "The man was someone Dignitas asked me to go to see because he was severely deaf and couldn't understand them on the telephone," he said. "He had already contacted them and booked an appointment. I went to his flat on 10 January and we spoke for a couple of hours. He said he'd make his own arrangement for a plane ticket. I wished him luck and filed a little report back to Dignitas. He cancelled his appointment the next day." Dr Irwin said he had already decided he "didn't want to get involved" because the man was not terminally ill - with six months or less to live, as defined by a Bill before the House of Lords.