Judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh have rejected the appeal of severely disabled grandfather Gordon Ross, who died in January this year, to set out guidelines for anyone assisting a terminally ill friend or loved one to die.
Mr Ross, who died of pneumonia, brought a case for judicial review at the Court of Session in May last year to have guidelines on assisted suicide made clearer. But it was thrown out on the grounds that the law on the matter was comprehensive. An appeal on the judgement has now also been rejected, with the judge’s decision stating: “The criminal law in relation to assisted suicide in Scotland is clear. It is not a crime ‘to assist’ another to commit suicide. However, if a person does something which he knows will cause the death of another person, he will be guilty of homicide if his act is the immediate and direct cause of the person’s death.”
Reacting to the court’s decision, Bob Scott of Friends At The End (Fate) said: “Although Gordon died last month, his family, as wells as his friends at Fate and the Humanist Society Scotland, had hoped that the appeal court judges would overturn the previous decision by the Court of Session and compel the Lord Advocate to issue detailed guidance on the law around assisted dying as exists in England”.
Comm RJ: the fact that “assisting” another to commit suicide is legal, but “doing something that might cause the death of someone” is a crime, makes clear that interpretation of “the act of assisting” is in need of guidelines: if not to decide on legality of it, but to give security for dying individuals asking for help to die.