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'Talks held' over assisted suicide

A team of professionals held an urgent meeting to discuss a disabled pensioner who repeatedly threatened to kill himself seven months before he ended his life at a Swiss clinic.

Two friends of Douglas Sinclair have been bailed after being arrested on suspicion of assisting his suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich on July 28.

The retired engineer suffered from the debilitating disorder multiple system atrophy and his body was shutting down.

On Thursday, it emerged that South Tyneside Council held a "multi-agency" meeting on January 20 after Mr Sinclair, 76, repeatedly told staff at Stapleton House Nursing Home in Jarrow that he intended to go to Switzerland to end his life. The team was made up of legal, medical and social services professionals.

Following Mr Sinclair's death, a notice in his local newspaper stated the widower passed away "peacefully and with dignity following an illness courageously borne".

Among the 10 people present when he died was a friend of Mr Douglas's, believed to be one of the two people arrested.

Northumbria Police said: "A 47-year-old woman and a 48-year-old man from South Shields have been arrested on suspicion of intentionally doing an act to assist or encourage suicide following the death of a 76-year-old man in Switzerland. Both have been bailed pending further inquiries."

Also at the meeting was Mr Sinclair's solicitor Chris Potts, who went on to accompany the two arrested people during their police interview when they returned from Zurich.

He said: "They have explained what they did or did not do to police. It would be inappropriate to comment beyond that. Both were interviewed under caution, both co-operated fully, they answered each question. They gave every co-operation to explain the events.

"The police have been very sensitive and have approached the case with an open mind. Their task is to collate the information and offer it upwards to the CPS and the Director of Public Prosecutions. That will take months, not weeks."

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