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BBC accused of bias in its programme on assisted dying

In a story picked up by several national newspapers, , Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship and campaign director of Care Not Killing, has complained to the BBC after the treatment he received in relation to its coverage of assisted suicide.  Dr Saunders was originally approached to appear on a programme to provide a counter view to that of Lord Falconer, advocate for the introduction of assisted suicide into British law.  However, the programme eventually featured Lord Falconer unopposed.  Assisted suicide is a recurring theme in current news -  due to Lord Falconer’s Assisted Suicide Bill having had its first reading in the House of Lords in May and Margo MacDonald’s Scottish Bill due to be published next month – and, as Saunders points out, the news has been littered with supportive stories and news for the cause.  In this vein, Stephen Hawking’s endorsement of assisted dying was being covered and it was for this reason Dr Saunders was approached.  One Tuesday night, Saunders received a text asking him to appear on BBC Breakfast the morning after Hawking’s programme had aired, requesting that he respond to it; ten minutes later he was texted again, with an apology saying he would no longer be needed.  Upon tuning in the next day, intrigued to see who had been chosen as his replacement, he found Lord Falconer speaking unimpeded about his proposals.  In speculating why he had been dropped from the programme and therefore avoiding any balanced discussion, Saunders writes:

Why did they drop me? One can only speculate.  I suspect that BBC cheerleading played a part, but I suspect also that Falconer, possibly remembering our last debate on the Radio Four Today programme, might have said that he would prefer to speak unopposed and they deferred to his requests.  

Unnervingly, this is just the latest in the BBC’s biased coverage of the topic – an issue picked up on by several newspapers (please see references below).





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