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British ex-teacher begs for the right to die to be legalised in the UK

Final words of British ex-headteacher as he heads to die at Dignitas TODAY: It’s too late for me, but legalise the right to die in the UK

  • Terminally ill Richard Selley makes his journey to Dignitas in Switzerland today
  • The former Scottish headteacher called on politicians to legalise assisted dying
  • Mr Selley suffers from Motor Neurone Disease and wants others to die at home
  • He has begged Westminster and Holyrood MPs to support an assisted dying Bill 

A terminally ill British man who is due to die at Dignitas today has made a final plea to politicians to legalise assisted deaths in the UK.

Richard Selley, from Perth, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2015, said the law change would be ‘too late’ for him but would enable other terminally ill people to ‘die peacefully’. 

The 65-year-old ex-headteacher begged politicians in Scotland and in Westminster to help others facing similar agonising decisions to be able to end their lives at home.

In a final video message before his planned death in Switzerland today, the former head of Loretto junior school in East Lothian called on MSPs to support an assisted dying Bill.

Richard Selley, 65, from Perth, made a final plea on the day he is due to die at Dignitas to politicians to enable people in his situation to end their lives peacefully at home

Mr Selley said he doesn’t wish to suffer any longer so is seeking an assisted death with Dignitas

He said: ‘I hope that members of the Scottish Parliament support an assisted dying Bill in the future. I think the momentum for a change in the law is growing.

‘It will be too late for me, but I hope that sometime soon people in my position will have the choice to have a peaceful death at a time of their choosing.’

He added: ‘Since my diagnosis with MND four years ago, I have lost the ability to walk, talk and swallow. I have also lost most of the power in my arms.

‘Despite these losses I have tried very hard to remain positive and my palliative care has been outstanding.

‘However, as I enter the final stage of my journey, I don’t wish to suffer for much longer so I am seeking an assisted death with Dignitas.

‘Despite what some people think, Dignitas do not let people simply fly to Zurich, knock on their door and ask to die.

‘I have already had to compose letters, write a life story and obtain medical records that prove that I am terminally ill.

The Dignitas assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. Scottish headteacher Mr Selley has called on politicians to make assisted dying easier in the UK 

Right-to-die campaigner Mr Selley (right) will travel to the Swiss clinic while he is still able to, as his family claims they have been ‘robbed’ of extra time with him (pictured with wife Elaine)

‘This has been stressful, particularly as my GP was advised to refuse my request for an up-to-date medical report.’

He said the cost of attending the clinic in Switzerland is about £10,000 which he said he is ‘fortunate’ to be able to afford, unlike other suffers of similar conditions.

‘Having to be able to fly means that I am choosing to die earlier than I would prefer,’ he added.

‘If an assisted death was possible in Scotland, I would be able to die at a time of my choosing, at home.’

Holyrood has twice considered bills aims at introducing assisted suicide, with these having brought forward by independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and died in 2014. 

Green MSP Patrick Harvie also brought forward a bill on the same subject after her death.

Motor Neurone Disease sufferer, Richard Selley, will end his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland today 

However, these both failed to get enough support to proceed through the Scottish Parliament.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of the campaign group Dignity In Dying, which released Mr Selley’s video, said: ‘Richard and his wife Elaine have shown immense bravery and dignity in sharing their story and speaking out about the injustice they have both suffered under the UK’s outdated, broken law in their final weeks together.’

She added: ‘If we are serious about improving end of life care in this country and ensuring that everyone has the death that’s right for them, assisted dying must be part of the conversation.’

Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of campaign group Care Not Killing, said it is ‘sad’ Mr Selley’s case is being used to ‘try and justify a campaign that will rip up long held universal protections, by treating those who are terminally ill, disabled, or have chronic conditions differently in law’.

He added: ‘Such a change in the law will put vulnerable people at risk of abuse and of coming under pressure to end their lives prematurely.’

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