A documentary that appears to show the moment when a man dies after going through with an assisted suicide was strongly criticised
yesterday by anti-euthanasia campaigners and Mediawatch-UK.
The film, which is being screened on the Sky Real Lives channel tonight, seems to show the moment when 59-year-old Craig Ewert, who had motor neurone disease, died. It is believed this would be the first time the instant of the a person's death in an
assisted suicide has been shown on British television.
Both the documentary maker, Oscar winner John Zaritsky, and Sky insisted that the film, Right to Die? - which is being shown at 9pm - is an important contribution to a vital debate.
Ewert, a retired university professor from Harrogate, Yorkshire, travelled to Dignitas, the organisation in Zurich that helps people to die, because he did not want to spend the rest of his days in a living tomb.
The documentary shows Ewert and his wife, Mary, exchanging a last kiss. He says: I love you sweetheart - so much. Have a safe journey. I will see you some time.
Ewert is then given a liquid and told he will die if he drinks it. He drinks through a pink straw, then asks for some apple juice and music. Shortly before his eyes close, he says: Thank you.
Dr Peter Saunders, a director of the Care Not Killing alliance, branded the film macabre death voyeurism. This is taking us a little further down the slippery slope. It seems there is a macabre fascination in this death tourism.
Dominica Roberts, of the Pro-Life Alliance, said the programme sent out the message that some people's lives are worthless , adding: It is both sad and dangerous to show this kind of thing on the television.
John Beyer, director of Mediawatch-UK, said: This subject is something that is quite an important political issue at the moment and my anxieties are that the programme will influence public opinion.
Barbara Gibbon, head of Sky Real Lives, said: This is an issue that more and more people are confronting and this documentary is an informative, articulate and educated insight into the decisions some people have to make. I think it's important that
broadcasters give this controversial subject a wider airing.