The BBC’s controversial new documentary on assisted suicide has been branded as “a piece of shameless propaganda” by a terminally ill multiple sclerosis sufferer.
And Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, has accused the broadcaster of siding with lobbyists campaigning for a change in the law.
Tonight viewers of BBC2 will watch motor neurone disease sufferer Peter Smedley end his life at Dignitas in Switzerland as part of a documentary fronted by Sir Terry Pratchett, a well known author and campaigner for assisted suicide.
But Geoff Morris, a terminally ill multiple sclerosis sufferer, said: “As a piece of shameless propaganda, Terry Pratchett’s film is brilliant. But as an analysis of the truth behind so-called ‘assisted suicide’, it is grossly misleading and unbalanced.”
He continued: “In their eagerness to back the campaign to change the law, Sir Terry and the producers have presented this type of suicide as an enriching, even uplifting choice.”
Mr Morris added: “For me, a disabled man with multiple sclerosis, this approach is profoundly troubling. And particularly regrettable is the role of the BBC.
“As the nation’s public service broadcaster, the Corporation has a duty to give both sides of the argument, not to act as a mouthpiece for a highly partisan cause.”
And Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, writing in The Times today, said: “The programme, presented by Sir Terry Pratchett, is called ‘incredibly moving’ ‘piece of work, in which we see a person take his own life on camera, so desperate was he to affect the debate on assisted dying’.
“But, of course, it is not as idyllic as it is made out to be. We know now that the death was messy, with the dying man choking and gasping for water and the request being refused by those ‘helping’ him to die.
“Again and again, Parliament and the medical profession have declared their opposition to assisted suicide yet the issue keeps being brought back into the public arena by a small but determined group of lobbyists.
“It seems that the BBC has joined them, having broadcast five programmes on this subject since 2008, all portraying assisted suicide in a favourable light.”