Jonathan Dimbleby: Terminally ill people of sound mind should have right to die

Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby has said terminally ill people of sound mind should have a right to an assisted death, after his brother died “in a terrible physical condition” with motor neurone disease.

Scupltor Nicholas Dimbleby, who is also the brother of TV star David Dimbleby and won acclaim for statues such as that of JM Whistler on Cheyne Walk and Jimmy Hill at Coventry City FC, died in February.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Jonathan said his brother had always been a supporter of the right to assisted death.

He added: “He wanted the option and believed he should have had the option, once he was terminally ill, of sound mind as he was until the very end but in a terrible physical condition.

“He wanted the option, whether he would have taken the option I do not know.

“I found out on his behalf about Dignitas, which is what he was thinking about, at one point.

“The complexities of that, the awfulness of having to go through the procedures, the cost of it – £15,000 pounds now at least, the fact that that your loved ones if they consciously seem to be helping you in any way towards that end, are liable to criminal prosecution, there is a series of big hurdles.

“But I think the the fundamental point is, in my own view, that if you are terminally ill in the sound mind, you should have that right.

“I am acutely aware, as anyone should be of the those who are vulnerable and those who have disabilities.

Dame Esther Rantzen
Dame Esther Rantzen is among other high profile advocates for assisted dying (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“I greatly respect those in those situations, particularly those disability campaigners who fear that this is a slippery slope.

“I don’t think there is any need to have a slippery slope with the legislation that I think should be proposed.”

Dame Esther Rantzen and Dame Prue Leith are among the other high profile advocates for assisted dying, while actress and disability rights campaigner Liz Carr has spoken out in opposition.

Laws in the UK currently prevent people from asking for medical help to die and Carr has been a vocal opponent of assisted dying for more than a decade.

Jersey’s politicians are to vote this week on whether to establish an assisted dying service on the island.