Assisted suicide group Dignitas has recommended a banned doctor in the UK as someone with an ‘open mind’ to assist with suicide.
An undercover journalist was told that Colin Brewer, who was struck off the medical register nine years ago, should be her “first try” in a bid to get help to kill herself.
Brewer was recorded saying he could help and that the reporter, who said she was 35 years old and had mental health problems, was not too young to seek assistance.
The Department of Health said the investigation, carried out by the Daily Mail, was “shocking”.
“We urge anyone experiencing depression to seek NHS care, rather than unregistered practitioners”, it added.
In the investigation the newspaper’s reporter spoke to a Dignitas representative who explained that she would need a written assessment from an “expert” in the UK, which would then form the basis of an application in Switzerland.
The Dignitas advisor said the application depended on finding a particular type of psychiatrist, and pointed the reporter to Brewer.
‘Don’t mention Dignitas’
In response to the journalist, Brewer said, “my advantage is I’m retired, I’m not on medical registers, so nobody can tell me what to do”.
He added that the reporter would need to get her medical notes from her GP. “Certainly it’s obviously not wise, if they do ask for a reason, to mention the Dignitas”, he said.
Brewer commented: “If they insist on a reason, you can always say you’re thinking of going abroad or something”.
“And let me know when you’ve got them. Then I’ll get you an appointment and you can come to London”, he added.
Prospects not good
The reporter also questioned Brewer on whether her age would be an issue, but he said 35 was “middle life”.
He commented, “I think at 35 there’s a reasonable presumption that if you had a lot of treatment and it hasn’t done much good by then, the prospects of it doing so are not very good. So I don’t think the age is a problem here.”
Referring to Dignitas, he added: “If they thought you had no chance at all, they wouldn’t have suggested you contact me.”
Brewer also said “non-terminality is not an issue” for Dignitas, as he revealed that he was involved with a case of someone who is not terminally ill and has mental health issues.
“If she is successful it would be the first case in Britain”, he added.
Dignitas declined to comment on the Daily Mail’s investigation, but Brewer said he had done nothing illegal.
“Doctors don’t have to be on the medical register to work and I am very open about the fact I am not. If someone had an acute risk of suicide I would of course call the cops right away”, he said.
Last year Brewer admitted to assisting seven people to go to the Dignitas clinic.
Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK. In the Westminster Parliament, on two occasions, Lord Falconer has tried to legalise the practice, while last week the Holyrood Parliament rejected a Bill to introduce the practice in Scotland.