Right To Die Appeal To Be Heard

1 December 2015, 06:00 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A three judge panel at the Court of Session in Edinburgh will today hear the appeal of Gordon Ross, a severely disabled grandfather, currently living in a care home in Glasgow, who is seeking an order to clarify the legal position regarding his right to die.

Gordon, who is 66, suffers from several serious medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease and loss of sensation in his arms and legs.

 He is unable to walk and is confined to a wheelchair. He cannot feed or dress himself, nor attend to his personal needs.

In September, Lord Doherty, ruled not to compel the Lord Advocate to publish guidelines regarding assisting someone to take their own life, a decision which Mr. Ross is now appealing.

At present Gordon, a former TV producer and Humanist Celebrant, does not want to die, but fears that should a time come when he has 'had enough', unlike an able-bodied person, he will not be capable of ending his life without help and that anyone who assists him may be charged with murder or culpable homicide. 

He believes that such discrimination, on account of his disability, is unfair.

The case will be heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday December 1st and Wednesday December 2nd. With the help of his solicitors, Patrick Campbell and Co, Glasgow, Gordon, a member of Friends At The End (FATE), is calling upon the Lord Advocate to issue guidance to clarify whether any person who helps him end his life would be charged with an offence. 

Such guidelines have been published in England by the Director of Public Prosecutions but these do not apply to Scotland.

Sheila Duffy from FATE said: "We will be demonstrating outside the court today to support Gordon Ross. 

"We believe the court in September made an error in allowing the current confusion which exists over assisting someone to end their life. 

"We are also grateful to Gordon McRae and his team at the Humanist Society of Scotland for their amazing support for their former colleague, which only shows the impact Gordon Ross has had on the people he has encountered during his life.

"Gordon has been very clear that he has no plans to end his life and is in no way suicidal. 

"He is severely disabled and needs help with the simplest of tasks most of us take for granted. 

"He is seeking clarification of Scots Law to learn if, should his circumstances deteriorate further, anyone who assisted him would face prosecution for helping him end his life. 

"Gordon has the full support of his family and friends who, although they want him to live as long as possible, understand how life could become unbearable for him in the future."

Gordon Ross said: "I am utterly undaunted by the judgement at the Court of Session in September, in which Lord Doherty decided not to compel the Lord Advocate to publish Guidelines regarding assisting someone to take their own life. 

"I remain convinced that I am being unfairly discriminated against on account of my disability which is why I am appealing against that decision."