We live in a society where simply minding your own business with a good heart is no longer enough to stop you being interrogated. Airport security is increasingly intrusive: body scans, pat down, oh – and remove your shoes and belt please. We have one security camera for every 14 members of the population. I’m sent a TV licence demand in case I have a TV and have forgotten to pay the licence. And today I have just opened a Customs and Revenues circular informing me that if I file a tax return late, I will be charged £100 even if I don’t owe any tax or are exempt from paying tax. (It reminds me of the Monty Python suggestion that parking fines revenue could be raised if anyone was merely thinking about parking illegally.)
Olwen Doris Green took an overdose of painkillers on March 6 last year. She was 90yrs old and felt she was beginning to suffer from dementia. Her daughter Megan Green was arrested, not for doing anything illegal, but just in case she might have. In what is becoming an almost familiar situation, someone commits suicide, and someone else is promptly hauled off to the police station and, after extensive questioning, released on bail, pending prosecution.
60-yr-old Megan sat with her mother until she had died – a compassionate, loving and entirely understandable act. The elderly lady’s plans to take her own life were no secret and she had been a member of a ‘right-to-die’ society for some time.
Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: ‘This was suicide, I have absolutely no doubt about that. “It is important to make clear though that when there is any suspicion of assisted suicide then the police should carry out a clear and comprehensive investigation. This is a criminal offence and remains so until any change is made, which can only be effected by Parliament.” Mrs Green’s children declined to comment after the hearing last week. Anyone who ‘aids and abets’ a suicide faces a maximum 14-year jail term. But Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer published guidelines on assisted suicide last year which suggested that prosecutions were unlikely where people helped loved ones to die on compassionate grounds.