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Gay man could face jail for helping ill partner die

Nell Frizzell June 16, 2009

A north London man who helped his partner access assisted suicide in Switzerland could face a 14-year prison sentence.

Alan Rees, who had lived with his partner Raymond Cutkelvin for nearly thirty years, has decided to speak to the media about what he calls the “draconian” laws surrounding assisted suicide.

“It was his choice to die. They can arrest me if they want but the law has to be changed,” said Rees, who, under the 1961 Suicide Act, could face charges for aiding, abetting, or procuring the suicide of another person.

Rees’ partner Cutkelvin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, but refused chemotherapy.

“He began deteriorating in front of me,” Rees told the Evening Standard. “I could see the difference on a daily basis.”

With the help of Rees, Cutkelvin got in touch with the pro-euthanasia organisation Dignitas and decided to go to Switzerland to die in a suicide clinic. “He was determined this was what he wanted and I respected that,” explained Rees. “He was in a lot of pain so I agreed to help.”

Despite the illegality of euthanasia in this country, Rees travelled to Switzerland with his partner. “I would have helped Raymond die, no matter what the consequences,” he said: “He wanted to die with dignity, not waste away.”

Dignitas has been criticised for the methods it uses in assisting the suicides of terminally ill patients. Its founder, Dr Ludgiw Minelli has been forced to move the clinic following complaints.

Rees, however, is unwavering in his support. “I loved [Raymond] and could not allow him to suffer.”

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