'Dr Death' won't be charged over assisted suicide

A former GP dubbed Doctor Death will not be prosecuted for assisting a terminally ill man to commit suicide.

Dr Michael Irwin, 79, paid £1,500 towards the cost of 58-year-old Raymond Cutkelvin's death at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.



He vowed to highlight the "hypocritical British system" surrounding euthanasia as he was arrested and questioned by police.



Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said there is sufficient evidence to prosecute him but it would not be in the public interest.



Mr Cutkelvin's partner of 28 years, Alan Cutkelvin Rees, was also told he will not face prosecution.









Mr Cutkelvin, of Hackney, east London, was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour of the pancreas in 2006 and died the following year at the clinic.



Mr Starmer said no criminal complaint was made about Mr Cutkelvin's death and police only began an inquiry after a newspaper article was published.



He said Mr Rees collected information, used a joint account to pay more than £3,000 towards the costs and accompanied Mr Cutkelvin to Switzerland.



But he said the dead man was "strong-minded" and made an "informed decision" to commit suicide "without any pressure" from Mr Rees or anyone else.



He said: "Mr Rees acted throughout as a supportive and loving partner and was wholly motivated by compassion."



Speaking about Dr Irwin, he said the circumstances were more complex, but that he too should not be prosecuted.



He said Dr Irwin cooperated with police and but already has a caution for assisting suicide.



Mr Starmer said at his age it is unlikely a court would impose anything other than a "nominal penalty".



He said: "As I have stated previously, applying the policy is not simply a matter of adding the factors for and against prosecution - they must be considered in the unique circumstances of each case and nothing in this decision should be taken as an indication that particular acts will not be investigated in the future or that they would not form the basis for a charge on other facts."









Dr Irwin was struck off the medical register in 2005 by the General Medical Council (GMC).



He had travelled to the Isle of Man with the intention of giving his friend, Patrick Kneen, up to 60 Temazepam sleeping pills to help him die.



But Mr Kneen, who was in his late 70s and had prostate cancer, was too ill to take the class C drug and died a few days later while in a coma.



The GMC struck Dr Irwin off the medical register, saying his actions had been "unprofessional", "inappropriate" and "irresponsible".



Dr Irwin, of Cranleigh, Surrey, stood down as chairman of the then Voluntary Euthanasia Society, now renamed Dignity in Dying, after receiving a police caution.



In March, the son of conductor Sir Edward Downes was told he would not be charged with assisting his suicide after booking their hotel room and accompanying them.



Sir Edward died with his wife, Lady Joan Downes, at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland on July 10 last year.



Mr Starmer said there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Caractacus Downes but it was not in the public interest to do so.



Mr Starmer published new guidelines in February that outlined that motive should be at the centre of any decision over assisted suicide.



They stated that anyone acting with compassion to help end the life of someone who has decided they cannot go on is unlikely to face criminal charges.



The document was published after a Law Lords ruling in favour of Debbie Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis.



She wanted to know whether her husband would be prosecuted for helping her to end her life.



Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.













Sarah Wootton, of Dignity in Dying, said: "Dignity in Dying believe that people should not be forced to take the law into their own hands to have what they consider to be a dignified death.



"Furthermore, terminally ill adults suffering at the end of life should not have to travel abroad to die.



"The decision not to prosecute either Mr Rees or Dr Irwin demonstrates that following the Director of Public Prosecutions' guidelines on assisting a suicide, compassionate assistance to die is unlikely to result in a prosecution.



"However, Parliament cannot continue to bury its heads in the sand and pretend that people are not taking drastic and sometimes dangerous decisions.



"Not only are Britons travelling abroad to die, but here in the UK terminally ill patients, their loved ones and their doctors are taking matters into their own hands."

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?