The BBC has been accused of providing unbalanced coverage of stories relating to assisted suicide.
Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care Not Killing (CNK), has written to BBC director Tony Hall, complaining that anti-euthanasia campaigners have always been available for interview and yet are overlooked by the BBC, or engaged only to be cancelled at short notice.
In his letter, he wrote: ‘The latest example of this occurred when Lord Falconer, someone who has already tried and failed to legalise assisted suicide, appeared on BBC Breakfast unopposed, to talk about the recent comments of Professor Stephen Hawking.
‘Lord Falconer was given a free platform to promote assisted suicide and his forthcoming bill without challenge. I had been due to debate the issue with Lord Falconer, after being invited to do so by BBC Breakfast, but, after agreeing, I was contacted by text just a few hours beforehand to be told I was no longer needed’.
He said this ‘biased reporting’ of the issue ‘follows a clear and dangerous pattern’. He pointed out that, since 2008, the BBC has screened no less than five docudramas and documentaries, portraying assisted suicide in a positive light and not giving the opposite perspective.
Dr Saunders said, ‘The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a list of recommendations to media professionals, including: “Avoid language which sensationalises or normalises suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems”, and “Avoid explicit description of the method used in a completed or attempted suicide”.
‘The WHO recommendations have been repeatedly breached. I am sad to say that the BBC has consistently acted as the cheerleader for legalising assisted suicide, a move that would lead to huge pressure on terminally ill and disabled people to end their lives’.