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Bake Off’s Prue Leith hopes Scotland will ‘lead the way’ with assisted dying

Great British Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith was in Holyrood to give her support to a bid to change the law to allow assisted dying in Scotland.


Bake Off star Dame Prue Leith has told how she hopes Scotland will “lead the way” in the UK by passing new laws on assisted dying.

The Great British Bake Off judge travelled to Holyrood to give her support to legislation being put forward by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur.

Dame Prue, who is patron of Dignity in Dying, has campaigned for a change in the law after her elder brother David suffered a “really horrible death” from bone cancer more than a decade ago.

With Mr McArthur’s member’s bill due to come before Holyrood next year, she urged MSPs in the Scottish Parliament to back the change – saying the legislation could come forward there “before we manage anything in England”.

Dame Prue urged politicians at both Holyrood and Westminster to “take notice” of Mr McArthur’s Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill, describing it as “really important”.

Dignity in Dying patron Dame Prue Leith with Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, who is bringing forward legislation on assisted dying to Holyrood (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency she told how she wanted “Scotland to lead the way” and pass the legislation.

She added that the Bill has a “really good chance”, as unlike at Westminster it can not be talked out, and will have to come before MSPs for a vote.

Speaking ahead of an event with Mr McArthur in the Scottish Parliament, Dame Prue said that “in Scotland there are over 75% of the public are in favour of a change in the law”.

While MSPs have twice voted down attempts to legislate for assisted dying at Holyrood, Dame Prue said that the “mood has changed” post Covid.

She explained: “I think it is partly to do with people are thinking more about death.

“Covid made us think about death, a lot of people died during Covid and people began to think about their own deaths.

“Up to then as a nation we were very good at not thinking about death and, therefore, it was possible for governments to not devote enough money to palliative care, and to not bring a Bill forward.”

Liam McArthur’s member’s bill is expected to come before MSPs in Holyrood next year (Jane Barlow/PA)

She told how she started campaigning for assisted dying in the wake of her brother’s death, saying while he had bone cancer he “finally died of pneumonia because the only way he could kill himself was to stop taking antibiotics, which they gave him because he kept getting pneumonia”.

She said: “That meant he died a really horrible death, because dying of pneumonia is like drowning. That was horrific.”

The legislation being brought forward by Mr McArthur would, if passed, give mentally competent adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal condition the right to end their life.

People would not be able to opt for the procedure for any other reason, and safeguards would include independent assessments by two doctors.

Dame Prue said: “My own feeling is that I am 83, so I think about death quite a lot and I want to die in my own bed, with my family around, peacefully, not in pain.

“Doctors spend their lives trying to make sure their patients have a pain-free good life, then at the end suddenly they are not allowed to help.”

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