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Gilderdale Case

more: Press Releases, Alliance News, Press Releases/Alliance News

5th February 2010

CNK Press Release...

Gilderdale case

Dr Peter Saunders, director of Care Not Killing, said that both assisted suicide and so-called 'mercy killing' are illegal in order to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse. The current law acts as a powerful deterrent.

'Many cases of financial, physical or emotional abuse', he said, 'occur within the context of so-called loving families. The law is there both to protect carers from being subtly coerced into helping loved ones kill themselves and also to protect vulnerable, sick or disabled people from succumbing to pressure, real or imagined, to end their lives so as not to be a burden to others.'

'If we remove or lessen the penalty for so-called 'mercy killing' we will leave vulnerable people without adequate legal protection and also contribute to a mindset that the lives of sick or disabled people are somehow less worth living. Both of these would be tremendously damaging to society. It is therefore extremely important that the current law, which holds tough penalties in reserve but gives discretion for judges to show leniency in hard cases, is upheld.'

Dr Peter Saunders said, 'CNK accepts the verdict of the jury in acquitting Mrs Gilderdale of attempted murder.'

'We are satisfied that the correct prosecution process was used for her case. The trial judge accepted that there was a case to answer, otherwise he would have stopped the trial at the end of the prosecution evidence. He directed the jury as to the appropriate law, and with those directions in mind the jury entered a verdict of not guilty. The checks and balances of our system of justice worked.'

'Some questions have been raised about the exercise of discretion by the DPP to prosecute the case. Those questions are unfair to him, given that there was a case to answer. CNK believes that the continuation of assisting suicide as a criminal offence, and therefore of trials in cases where there is sufficient evidence to take the matter to trial in accordance with the CPS full code test, provides the appropriate panoply of protection both for the vulnerable and for those who are accused.'

'The reaction to the case demanded by some, namely a change in the law, would remove any meaningful protection from vulnerable groups, and from many who are not in fact suffering from terminal illnesses.'

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