Wales

Cancer patient ends life at Dignitas in Switzerland

Bob Cole Image copyright LORENTZ GULLACHSE
Image caption Bob Cole had called on MPs to support the Assisted Dying Bill due for debate in September

A man with terminal cancer who travelled to Switzerland to end his life has died.

Assisted suicide campaigner Bob Cole, 68, a former town councillor in north Wales, travelled to Dignitas on Wednesday from his home in Chester.

His wife, Ann Hall, died at the same centre in Zurich last year.

Campaign group Dignity in Dying confirmed Mr Cole died on Friday afternoon.

The Sun newspaper said Mr Coles' last wish before he died was for the law on assisted dying in the UK to be changed.

He had called on MPs to support the Assisted Dying Bill that is due for debate in the House of Commons in September.

Under current UK law, a person encouraging or assisting a suicide or suicide attempt could face up to 14 years in prison, if a decision was taken to prosecute.

Mr Cole, who had been a councillor in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, was diagnosed in June with mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by asbestos.

He told the Sun that he had been left "doubled up in pain" and had "no wish to die in pain without any dignity" after doctors told him he only had months to live.

His wife died at the same centre in February 2014 after suffering from the degenerative brain condition, supranuclear palsy.

Mr Cole, originally from Manchester, became a vocal campaigner for changes to assisted dying laws - making regular trips to London to demonstrate over the issue.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bob Cole was understood to be going to the Swiss Dignitas clinic on Friday

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "Bob's decision is yet another reminder that the current law is broken.

"Parliament's job is to fix the law so people like Bob and his wife Ann are no longer forced to travel abroad to simply have control over the manner and timing of their own deaths."

However, an expert in end-of-life care, Baroness Ilora Finlay, said she remained opposed to any change in the law.

The professor in palliative care at Cardiff University told BBC Radio Wales on Friday that the focus should be on improving care so people are able to maintain dignity as they die, rather than ask doctors to assist in deaths.

"The vast majority of doctors don't want to be involved in this," she told Good Morning Wales.

"I think it is really dangerous if we change the law and doctors become gatekeepers."

She said people were sometimes ending their lives unnecessarily early.

"People get the diagnosis wrong and they get the predicted life expectancy wrong," she said.

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