BBC Man in Mercy Killing

The BBC’s Ray Gosling has admitted in an interview that he smothered a former lover who was suffering from AIDS and was dying. Gosling has refused to cooperate with police and is unwilling to name the man or where and when the smothering took place.

No doubt, opponents of assisted suicide will jump on the case — and, despite being a committed advocate of the assisted laws in the UK being changed, I, too, am disturbed by Gosling’s action and his behaviour now.

But it needs to be stressed: assisted suicide is not the same thing as mercy killing. Gosling has not indicated whether his former lover made clear his wish to die and the method of death.

Any intelligent advocate of legalising assisted suicide understands a couple of major points: there must be transparency and clear evidence that the wishes of the dying or incurably sick are being carried out and that they, if possible, are the ones who “pull the trigger.” And when, or if, there is an investigation there must be evidence that there has been no trickery or cajoling. Obviously, if there is a change in the law there should be checks and balances and procedure — in the absence of a change of law, it is, surely, the responsibility of anyone involved in an assisted suicide to ensure a “procedure” involving others (family and friends) is followed and that they are prepared to be questioned by authorities.

I suspect, Gosling may have put back the assisted suicide cause by his high-handed and rather casual attitude since announcing his involvement in a mercy killing.