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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 11:20 GMT
'Most doctors would aid suicide'
A retired GP who had been charged with helping a friend commit suicide has said most doctors would consider aiding the death of terminally-ill people.

Dr Michael Irwin told the BBC Today Programme he would also consider helping someone die if they asked him.

Dr Irwin, from Cranleigh, Surrey, was arrested in December when a friend who had cancer died on the Isle of Man.

He was charged with conspiring to commit Patrick Kneen's suicide but those charges have been dropped.

I have helped terminally ill patients who asked for help by being very liberal with the use of drugs like diamorphine in the last few days of their lives
Dr Michael Irwin

When asked if he would help people in the future to take their own lives, the former chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society said he would consider a request.

He said: "If it involved someone who I knew well and if I felt it was a compassionate deed to respond to the request then yes I think most doctors certainly would do that.

"Certainly when I was in practice, I am retired now, I have helped terminally ill patients who asked for help by being very liberal with the use of drugs like diamorphine in the last few days of their lives."

Dr Irwin has admitted discussing euthanasia with Patrick Kneen and his wife Patricia but said he did not understand why suicide charges were brought against him.

Strange situation

The former doctor said he flew out to the Isle of Man in December equipped with enough sleeping pills to enable Mr Kneen to commit suicide.

However, the plan was abandoned on his arrival as Mr Kneen, a prostate cancer sufferer, was too ill to take the pills himself.

He died later with no assistance.

After his death Dr Irwin and Mrs Kneen were arrested and charged.

On Tuesday Dr Irwin said: "No I did not [assist], this is one of those strange situations as I don't think anywhere in the world has any person ever been accused of conspiring to assist a suicide that did not happen."

Isle of Man Police were unavailable for comment.




SEE ALSO:
Arrested euthanasia chairman resigns
18 Dec 03  |  Southern Counties
Man 'planned to help friend die'
14 Dec 03  |  Southern Counties
Euthanasia debate sweeps world
26 Sep 03  |  Europe
Overdose kills right-to-die man
26 Sep 03  |  Europe


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