Prue Leith calls for assisted dying law change after brother’s ‘awful’ death

Dame Prue Leith has called on the government to give “proper time” when considering changing the law to allow medically assisted dying.

The Great British Bake Off judge, 82, is making a documentary about assisted dying with her son and Tory MP for Devizes, Danny Kruger, who is of a different opinion from her on the debate.

The chef and TV presenter told Times Radio on Tuesday that her son has a “principled stand” on the topic as he feels there is a danger it will lead to people feeling pressurised into an assisted death.

She continued: “Whereas, I keep saying to him, when you get to my age you speak about death quite a lot. I just feel it’s my life and if I want to end it – which I don’t by the way, I’m really keen on my life – but I would like to have the option.

The Great British Bake Off 2018
Dame Prue Leith is making a documentary about assisted dying (Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions/PA)

“I think the law should change. I think we should be allowed to ask for medical assistance to help us die when we’ve absolutely had enough of life.”

She recalled how she watched her elder brother David die in pain from cancer, saying: “He just had the most awful, awful, awful death and it’s true that palliative care can be really great but the truth is it’s not great in this country.

“And there are some cancers and some complaints, the drugs just do not touch. There are something like 7,000 people who die in unrelieved pain.”

Dame Prue added that Parliament needs to address the issue seriously with a “Bill that the government promises will not be talked out”.

“What I’d mostly like is Parliament to give it proper time”, she said.

“I mean, up until now it has been debated in the Commons a couple of times but it’s always a Private Member’s Bill, which can be talked out by filibustering.

“What happens is the people who are opposed to it – especially which happened in the Lord’s most recently – they just propose all sorts of amendments that they don’t really mean.

“They just want to talk for two days, in which case it collapses. So it has to be a Government Bill or a Bill that the Government promises will not be talked out, and then people won’t just prevent it happening.”

The Bake Off star has previously spoken about the painful death of her brother and how her late husband Rayne Kruger asked doctors if he could have “a bit of assistance” with dying.

She said Kruger, who she was married to for almost 30 years before the author’s death from emphysema in 2002, had wanted to go peacefully.

Assisted dying has been legalised in several states in the US, in Australia and in several European countries, and a Bill is set to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament next year.