An Australian euthanasia campaigner dubbed ‘Dr Death’ has boasted about how his suicide ‘workshops’ have helped at least five Scots kill themselves.
Dr Philip Nitschke leads do-it-yourself suicide workshops, advising the elderly and terminally ill on suicide methods.
He told an audience in Edinburgh on Saturday that it is wise for every elderly or ill person to learn how to kill themselves peacefully.
Dr Nitschke, who has been touring the UK this month, claimed information provided by his organisation, Exit International, enabled five terminally ill people in Scotland to end their lives.
He said the number could be higher as family members of the deceased don’t always tell the organisation.
Dr Nitschke told an audience of about 30 people in Edinburgh on Saturday: “It’s wise for every elderly or ill adult to learn how they could peacefully and reliably end their lives at the time of their choosing.”
The suicide seminars, aimed at over-50s, give delegates information on how to kill themselves using mail order drugs and so-called “exit bags” designed to enable people to suffocate themselves.
Dr Nitschke also held euthanasia seminars in London,York and Eastbourne, a town which has one of the highest populations of the elderly in the UK.
Assisted suicide is illegal under British law. Aiding and abetting suicide is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the police should investigate whether the workshop in Edinburgh broke the law.
He said: “The fact this group is openly admitting to having helped people to kill themselves gives the police a basis to question them in order to determine if any law has been broken.”
Michael McMahon MSP agreed with Mr Kearney and said: “To turn a discussion on the subject into a practical workshop is a step too far. Assisting or encouraging someone to commit suicide remains an offence.”
In April it emerged that school pupils were being shown footage of Dr Nitschke demonstrating a lethal injection machine in a DVD about euthanasia.
The DVD was being shown to pupils aged 14 to 18, mainly those who were studying GCSE philosophy which includes euthanasia in the curriculum.