Rugby player’s parents not charged for suicide

The parents of Daniel James, the former rugby player who was helped to commit suicide at a clinic in Switzerland, will not face charges over his death.

Mark and Julie James were investigated after Daniel ended his life at the Swiss Dignitas clinic, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said there was “sufficient evidence” to prosecute them.

However, he has decided that since the couple had not influenced their “fiercely independent son” it would not be in the public interest to prosecute them.

Daniel, who was paralysed from the neck down after a rugby playing accident in 2007, had tried to kill himself three times after being told he would never make a significant recovery.

In his letter to the Dignitas clinic he said: “The primary reason I wish for your help is simply that I want to die, and due to my disability I am unable to make this happen.

“Not a day has gone by without hoping it will be my last. I do not want another failed attempt.”

A consultant psychiatrist who assessed Daniel said he was “fully aware of the reality and potential finality of his decision”.

Speaking soon after Daniel’s death Dr Peter Saunders of the Care Not Killing alliance, said: “I think there has to be real question about whether Daniel – and I haven’t examined him as a doctor – but it raises real questions about whether he was clinically depressed.

“There was a study published just last week in the BMJ showing that in Oregon one in four people who have assisted suicide there were clinically depressed and may well have made different decisions had they been properly supported through it.”

Mr Starmer said Daniel’s parents had committed a serious offence, but a prosecution was “not needed”.

“In particular,” he said, “but not exclusively, I would point to the fact that Daniel, as a fiercely independent young man, was not influenced by his parents to take his own life and the evidence indicates he did so despite their imploring him not to.”

More than 100 Britons have now died at the Swiss suicide clinic, although Daniel was the youngest to date.

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