Sunday, 12 December 2010

A very interesting invitation

Last week I received an email from Lord Charles Falconer, inviting me to give evidence to his "Commission on Assisted Suicide". In his letter he told me it's independent. In his blog, George Pitcher of The Telegraph describes it as entirely bogus. As he says, "its findings are already a done deal, of course. To recap: not only is Lord Falconer a well-known advocate of euthanasia, who has tried to introduce it into legislation in the Lords, but he is chairing the “Commission”. At the last count, nine of the 12 “Commission” members are on record as supporting some change in the law to allow some form of euthanasia in the UK (the remaining three are best described as neutral-to-wobbly, so there are no actual opponents of a change in the law here). The “Commission” is bankrolled by Sir Terry Pratchett, the novelist who believes those of infirm mind should be put to death, and sponsored by the death-on-demand lobbyists Dignity in Dying." ( )   
I'd not read this before replying, but this was what I emailed back:

"Dear Lord Falconer

Thank you for your invitation to give evidence to your commission on assisted dying.  I regret that I shall decline for two reasons. 

The first is that my condition of Motor Neurone Disease makes travel far from easy.  If the object were sufficiently compelling, then I might be persuaded to make the effort, but in this instance – a self-appointed unofficial ‘commission’ – it is not the case.

The second is that I have no confidence in either your commission’s independence or its objectivity.  As for its proclaimed ‘independence’ I understand it is the brainchild of Dignity in Dying, whose overt purpose is to campaign in favour of assisted suicide, and that it is funded inter alia by Sir Terry Pratchett, whose views are well known.  And as for its objectivity, whilst not doubting their sincerity, I understand that the large majority of the panel members, including yourself, are on record as supporting a change in the law and, to my knowledge, there are none who have been vocal on the other side of the debate. 

I suspect that my appearing to give evidence would be used to give a fig leaf of balance to a final report the direction of whose recommendations are predictable and which to my mind would verge on propaganda. 

Should there ever be an official Parliamentary commission again on the subject, I should be glad to give evidence, either in writing or if possible in person, but I am sure you will understand why I am declining your invitation.

Yours sincerely..."

As usual, I wished in retrospect I had been more gracious in what I'd written, bearing in mind what St Paul had to say about seasoning our speech with salt. However, once you've sent an email you can't unsend it. So should any of the "commission" happen to read this, I apologise for that. 


  1. Isn't there an office like the Press Complaints Commission or Office of Fair Trading to whom one can complain about such deceitfulness? I think St Paul would have approved of your response - but your brother is probably a better judge!

  2. A friend commented by email that we're called to be salt in the world, not sugar - which I liked, and helped me get over it! I'm afraid economy with the truth is the commerce of politics, Brian, aka spin.