Skip to content

Victory for compassion as MPs unanimously support non prosecution of compassionate amateur assistance to die.

Dignity in Dying has today welcomed MPs’ historic decision to back Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) guidelines on assisted suicide, as well as MPs endorsement of further development of end-of-life care via an amendment to the motion. The DPPs guidelines make clear that those who compassionately assist a loved one to die at their request are unlikely to be prosecuted, and that those who maliciously encourage the death of another will feel the full force of the law.

The House of Commons debate saw British MPs accepting for the first time the circumstances in which an individual should not be prosecuted for assisting in a suicide.

Dignity in Dying chief executive Sarah Wootton said:

“The passing of Richard Ottaway’s motion represents a landmark in the evolution of a more compassionate approach to end-of-life decision making. There is no appetite from the public or the Courts to prosecute those who compassionately assist a loved one to die, at their request. Parliament has shown a consensus of support for this approach, as well as recognising that we must continuing to develop end-of-life care for all.

“Given MPs have accepted for the first time that people who reluctantly assist their dying loved ones to die should not be prosecuted, I question why these dying adults must travel to a foreign county to die at great financial and emotional cost.

“While today’s vote provides further security to those dying adults who are considering asking loved ones for help to die, there is still no safeguarded assisted dying law in the UK and this must change.”

The Backbench Business Committee Debate in the Chamber of the House of Commons debate was the first full assisted suicide debate on the floor of the Chamber since 1970 although there was a vote via a Ten Minute Rule Bill 15 years ago.

The debate was secured by Senior Conservative MP Richard Ottaway and covered the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) Policy on Assisted Suicide, which has been in place since February 2010.


Notes to editor:

The Motion:

The motion being debated was:

This House welcomes the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide published in February 2010.


Tabled by Dame Joan Ruddock MP – Line 3 at end add ‘and invites the Government to consult as to whether to put the guidance on a statutory basis.’

Tabled by Fiona Bruce MP – Line 3 at end add ‘and encourages further development of specialist palliative care and hospice provision.’


Richard Ottaway MP is available for interview, as are a number of people affected by the issues being debated. To arrange media interviews please use contacts below.

About Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
  • Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

Media Contacts:

For all Dignity in Dying media enquiries please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at