Protest as right-to-die grandfather court plea made

Supporters of 66-year-old disabled grandfather Gordon Ross  gathered today in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Supporters of 66-year-old disabled grandfather Gordon Ross gathered today in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A SEVERELY disabled grandfather’s legal plea over the right to die is a case of “particular concern and urgency” for him, a court has heard.

Gordon Ross, 66, who suffers from several serious medical conditions, is seeking clarification from the Court of Session in Edinburgh over the legal position surrounding assisted suicide in Scotland.

Gordon Ross suffers from several serious medical conditions and has launched a legal bid to have the right to die by assisted suicide. Picture: PA

Gordon Ross suffers from several serious medical conditions and has launched a legal bid to have the right to die by assisted suicide. Picture: PA

Mr Ross, who lives in a Glasgow care home, is calling on the top prosecutor, the Lord Advocate, to issue guidance clarifying whether any person who helped him end his life would be charged with an offence.

Such guidelines have been published by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in England but they do not apply in Scotland.

The hearing took place as relatives and supporters gathered in Edinburgh’s Parliament Square to highlight Mr Ross’ case.

Mr Ross has said he does not want to die now but fears that if the time comes when he has “had enough”, he will not be capable of ending his life without help - a situation he believes amounts to discrimination on account of his disability.

The petitioner was hoping to be here in person but his physical deterioration is such that he has not been able to be transported over from Glasgow to Edinburgh

Aidan O’Neill QC

The former television producer’s poor health meant he was unable to attend court today, where his legal team called for the case to progress at some pace.

Representing him, Aidan O’Neill QC said: “The petitioner was hoping to be here in person but his physical deterioration is such that he has not been able to be transported over from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

“His physical situation continues to deteriorate.

“The matter is one of particular concern and urgency for him to be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Supporters of 66-year-old disabled grandfather Gordon Ross  gathered today in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford. Mr Ross'  daughter Veronica is pictured. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Supporters of 66-year-old disabled grandfather Gordon Ross gathered today in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford. Mr Ross' daughter Veronica is pictured. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Mr Ross’s legal team has argued that the Lord Advocate’s “failure” to produce guidelines is incompatible with the disabled man’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

“The present application is based on the submission that the refusal by the Lord Advocate to set out policy guidelines is unlawful because it’s incompatible in respect of the convention rights,” said Mr O’Neill.

Lawyers for the Lord Advocate dispute the claims and further argue that it would be inappropriate for the court to make any order while the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill is still being considered at the Scottish Parliament.

Gerry Moynihan QC told Judge Lord Doherty: “It is my submission that your Lordship will see that the Lord Advocate’s policy is crystal clear. There is no lack of clarity requiring any further statement.”

Supporters of 66-year-old disabled grandfather Gordon Ross  gathered today in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Supporters of 66-year-old disabled grandfather Gordon Ross gathered today in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford