This article was originally published in The Times, 26/8/2023: thetimes.co.uk/article/poison-chef-kenneth-law-88-british-deaths-0s5mn0jln
Sajid Javid, the former home secretary, has called on Suella Braverman to look at the sale and regulation of the type of poison sent to the UK by Kenneth Law after it was linked to 88 deaths in Britain.
The Conservative MP, who lost his brother to suicide in 2018, spoke yesterday after it was revealed that the National Crime Agency (NCA) had begun an investigation into Law.
Law, 57, a Canadian chef, was arrested and charged with aiding suicide in his home country after The Times revealed that he was supplying suicidal people with a lethal substance.
The poison, which The Times is not naming, is legal to sell and is not regulated, meaning that people here do not need a licence to buy it. Some of the British buyers of Law’s poison were shepherded to him by users of an online suicide forum, which has been operating despite concerns about its content.
A police investigation three years ago found that a different seller of the same substance, on the south coast of England, was linked to 57 deaths in Britain and Europe.
Police concluded that the UK company believed it was selling the substance to buyers for legitimate use and no charges were brought.
Law was free to operate his business for two years until his arrest. Police said he had sent 1,200 packages to 40 countries.
Javid said: “Incredible pain and suffering to so many victims and families has been caused. At a time of increasing global connectivity, it is vital that our laws and policing continue to adapt . . . The home secretary must seriously look into the regulations on this substance, the online platforms on which it can be procured and policing at every level. Our response must be fit for purpose to prevent future victims and bring evil perpetrators to justice.”
The Home Office was contacted for comment.
Javid, who served as home secretary from 2018 to 2019, talked last year about the suicide of his brother Tariq in July 2018. He has previously called for the promotion of self-harm online to be criminalised. He said last year: “When you lose someone that you are so close to . . . it’s more painful. And as I say, with suicide, we just didn’t see it coming.”
The National Crime Agency said yesterday that 272 Britons had bought the poison from Law, up from an earlier estimate of 232. It has linked the purchases to 88 deaths. Sources said investigators would need to prove that the suicides were caused by Law’s poison.
Law, who is charged with two counts of aiding suicide, has denied that he was willingly selling products to help people kill themselves. The chef appeared in court in Ontario for a brief hearing last night. His case was adjourned until September 8.