Sunday, 12 June 2011


Lords Hansard text for 7 Jul 2009 ... Lord Falconer of Thoroton: It is not a crime to travel abroad to be assisted in dying in a country where assisted dying is lawful

The Times July 8, 2009 Amendment to relax law on assisted dying is thrown out by peers ...The amendment was sponsored by the Labour peers Lord Falconer of Thoroton and Baroness Jay of Paddington, the former Leader of the Lords, and had been criticised by Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and other church leaders. Debating the issue, Lord Falconer told peers that 115 people had travelled from Britain to Switzerland for help to commit suicide and, although there had been investigations, no one had been prosecuted. “It is absolutely plain that the law is being marginalised,” he said. “The law is not being applied by the Director of Public Prosecutions because it plainly no longer fits the current situation.

“The result of the law not being applied is we have horror of people going early to commit suicide abroad without their loved ones there.”

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev Michael Langrish, who has a 30-year-old daughter with Down’s syndrome, said that the amendment would be “a legislative milestone on that slippery slope to introducing assisted suicide here in the UK by incremental degrees”.

Strongly opposing the amendment, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, a crossbencher, who herself is severely disabled, said she “ticked every box” which would enable her to ask someone to travel abroad with her under the terms of Lord Falconer’s amendment.

She said: “By going with this amendment we turn the traffic lights from red to green on state-sanctioned assisted dying, albeit in another country.”

She added: “If this amendment were to succeed, I believe it would place a new and invidious pressure on disabled and terminally ill people, who think that they are close to the end of their lives.

“Some will consider death is preferable to fighting, with support, to live with dignity.”

The Labour QC Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws gave warning that “legal changes made for benign reasons have had unforeseen and negative consequences.

“And the consequence that concerns me is that with this legal amendment we create a climate in which the terminally ill and disabled and the elderly and the sick feel even more profoundly vulnerable or feel there is an expectation that they should take steps to end their life,” she said.

Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, who was Health Secretary in the last Conservative Government, warned that agreeing the amendment could “open the way to a shift in perception across the board”, including on the allocation of resources. The health service bureaucracy has to be able to rule that kind of resource allocation out by saying that is not something we will consider.”

He added: “Bureaucracies themselves do not have souls. Bureaucracies given broad signals can move quite quickly in ways that individual people looking at hard cases had not envisaged.”

But the Labour peer Lord Warner, a former Health Minister, supporting Lord Falconer, argued that his suggestion was a “narrow and focused amendment”.

He told peers: “It would be much more in line with the 21st-century reality of a number of Britons who are going abroad to end their lives, whether we like it or not.”

Telegraph - 30 Nov 2010 ... An inquiry into the issues and laws around assisted dying led by the former justice secretary Lord Falconer will be launched today

Mystery helicopter fuels Dr Kelly conspiracy theories by Eliot Seftom Daily Mail May 15th 2011

The revelation that a mystery helicopter landed at the site where the body of Dr David Kelly was found has breathed new life into conspiracy theories surrounding the apparent suicide of the UN weapons inspector who apparently committed suicide in 2003 after being unmasked as the whistleblower behind claims that the Tony Blair government lied in order to make the case for war in Iraq.

The Daily Mail reports that flight logs for the helicopter, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, are heavily redacted - to the extent that the purpose of the flight and who was aboard has been totally obscured.

What is clear is that the helicopter was hired by Thames Valley police and landed 90 minutes after Dr Kelly’s body was found on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire on the morning of July 18, 2003.

The existence of the helicopter was not mentioned in the Hutton Inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, which concluded in 2004 that the government was not guilty of any wrongdoing. The report was widely criticised at the time as a "whitewash".

Dr Andrew Watt, a clinical pharmacologist who has previously raised doubts over the official version of events, said: "If the purpose of the helicopter flight was innocent, one has to ask why it was kept secret." He has written to the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, who is currently considering whether an inquest should be held into Dr Kelly's death.

The release of the Dr Kelly's post-mortem files last year - which confirm that his wounds were self-inflicted - was supposed to have put to bed conspiracy theories surrounding the whistleblower’s death.

However, a group of doctors was not satisfied with the conclusions and they are currently pursuing a court action to force a judicial review in the event that Grieve decides not to open a coroner’s inquest.

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Thames valley Police should be able to account for their action. I have always though that Dr. Kelly, at a crucial moment when Blair wanted to get into the war, was a lone authorative critical voice speaking out. Who had the motivation and the means to to "take him out" and mobilze a Thames Valley Police helicopter?

Posted by Peter Gardiner at 3:14pm on May 15, 2011

Robin Cook who resigned his cabinet post over the Iraq war was also a critical and much more important voice. His death was in sudden and lonely circumstances. Let`s look into the circumstances of his death at the same time.

Posted by argonaut at 4:42am on May 17, 2011

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