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Gordon Ross Launches Appeal Over ‘Right To Die’ Guidance For Scotland

December 1, 2015

A severely disabled man is launching a fresh bid to get legal guidance issued in Scotland regarding assisted suicide.

Gordon Ross, 66, who suffers from degenerative Parkinson’s disease, is concerned that anyone who helped him end his life would face prosecution.

He wants the Lord Advocate to issue guidelines in the way the Director of Public Prosecutions has for England.

A judge rejected his case in September. His appeal will be heard by three judges at the Court of Session.

Mr Ross, a former TV producer, who lives at a care home in Glasgow, will not attend the hearing in Edinburgh as he is too ill.

However, supporters of his action plan to hold a rally near the court in Parliament Square on Tuesday morning.

Mr Ross brought his case for a judicial review to the Court of Session in Edinburgh in May.

‘Dignified suicide’

He wanted Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, to set out guidance on what circumstances he would take into account before deciding whether to prosecute somebody who had helped another person end their life.

His QC, Aidan O’Neill, had argued that under the European Convention on Human Right there was a substantive right to “a dignified suicide”.

He said: “In effect a complete and blanket prohibition against or threat of prosecution for all or any who might assist the suicide of another is convention incompatible.”

Gerry Moynihan QC, counsel for the Lord Advocate, said there was no proper foundation in law for the outcome that was being sought.

Mr Moynihan told the court: “The Lord Advocate is being asked to produce guidelines on prosecution for assisted suicide. We do not prosecute for assisted suicide. We prosecute for murder or culpable homicide.

“There is no blanket rule in Scots law. Consideration has to be given to the causal connection between the conduct and the death.

“People are entitled to know the Lord Advocate’s policy is he will prosecute and he will.

“To say anything else is to give people a false expectation of immunity from prosecution. That is an illusion.”

In a written judgement issued in September, Lord Doherty ruled that the current Crown policy was legal and did not breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Doherty wrote: “The policy is consonant with the rule of law. The public know what his policy is and there is no suggestion that that it is being applied inconsistently.”

In May, MSPs rejected the Assisted Suicide Scotland Bill by 82 votes to 36 following a debate and free vote on the issue at Holyrood.

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