Lord Sumption on assisted suicide: What did he really say?

A critical analysis of claims that Lord Sumption implied that our law is ‘broken’.

In the first of his Reith Lectures this year, former Justice of the Supreme Court, Lord Jonathan Sumption analysed the relationship between politics and the law. Towards the end of his lecture a member of the audience raised the controversial question of whether the law should be changed in order to allow assisted suicide for terminallly ill people.

His answer and what it means is anaylsed further in this paper and placed within its proper context. Campaigners for assisted suicide have been quick to argue that Lord Sumption was effectively encouraging people to break the law on assisted suicide. Here, we we outline why this is a misrepresentation of what Lord Sumption really said.


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