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Doctor who assisted Swiss suicide will not be prosecuted

A former UN medical director questioned by police after accompanying a 75-year-old woman to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland will not face prosecution for assisting in her suicide, The Independent has learnt.

The decision not to prosecute Dr Michael Irwin will be seen as further evidence that prosecutors are turning a blind eye to people who help in the planning of suicides abroad.

Dr Irwin, 77, spent more than two years under investigation and faced a maximum 14-year prison term after he admitted accompanying May Murphy, who had the severe degenerative disease multiple system atrophy, from Glasgow to Zurich. There she took a lethal dose of barbiturates at an apartment used by Dignitas, which helps terminally ill people end their lives.

But Surrey Police told Dr Irwin that they will not press charges because they do not possess the evidence to take the case further. Death with dignity campaigners believe that the Crown Prosecution Service has formulated a covert policy involving a very hesistant approach to prosecutions over assisted suicide.

Dr Irwin said: "I have been three times and, if necessary, will escort someone else again. But still it seems that the legal authorities will take no action against me. It is nonsense to say that 'there is insufficient evidence to proceed' when I had given the full facts of my trip to Zurich with May Murphy."