Doctor who helped pay for an assisted suicide challenges police to arrest him
DR MICHAEL Irwin, 78, who is due to address Brighton atheists on the subject of assisted suicide on September 2, has challenged police to arrest him for his involvement in the death of a British businessman in 2007.
The former GP sent Â£1,500 to the Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas to help cover the money needed to fund Raymond Cutkelvin’s death. This kind of payment is illegal under British law.
Dr Irwin was part of a group who travelled to Zurich with Mr Cutkelvin and his partner Alan Cutkelvin Rees in February 2007.
He told Sky News:
I met them twice beforehand and felt compassion towards them. I personally sent a cheque directly to Dignitas, before they went.
Mr Cutkelvin, 58, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in August 2006.
He decided to end his life in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal so long as the patient takes the lethal dose of barbituates themselves.
Dr Irwin has written an open letter to Hackney CID stating that he will be voluntarily attending Shoreditch Police Station on Friday to explain his role in the suicide.
Mr Cutkelvin’s partner of 28 years was arrested at his flat in Hackney on July 17 on suspicion of aiding or abetting the suicide of another.
Alan Cutkelvin Rees has been bailed to return Stoke Newington police station on September 23, when he will find out if he is to face charges.
Irwin, a former chairman of campaign group Dignity In Dying and a board member of pro-suicide charity Friends At The End, cannot understand why Rees was arrested, but he was not.
They should arrest me. I gave financial support, moral support and advice. I consider myself equally involved. If not they should admit they made a mistake in arresting Alan.
In 2003, Irwin hit the headlines after he was arrested following his confession that he had tried to assist a terminally ill friend to die. No charges followed, but in 2005 he was struck off the medical register after an inquiry by the General Medical Council. He has also claimed to have helped at least 50 terminally ill patients to die.
It is believed more than 115 Britons have made a similar journey to Switzerland within the last 10 years – many of those accompanied by friends or family.
The 1961 Suicide Act states that it is a crime to aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of someone else.
The decision over court action comes down to the Director of Public Prosecutions – and so far no one has ever been charged.
Both Dr Irwin and Mr Cutkelvin Rees are campaigning for a change to the law to allow assisted suicide here in the UK – a change that is vigorously opposed by Christian pressure groups.
Mr Cutkelvin Rees said of the doctor:
I’m very pleased with what he is doing and I support him fully.
The case comes as MS sufferer and campaigner Debbie Purdy waits to hear whether the Law Lords will clarify the wording on assisted suicide law.
She intends to end her life at Dignitas but wants guarantees her husband will not face prosecution if he accompanies her to Switzerland.
The title of Dr Irwin’s upcoming talk to the Brighton & Hove Humanist Society is Assisted Suicide: What is Legal and What is Not.