Actor appeals for right to ‘die with dignity’

Sir Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Stewart

Hollywood star Sir Patrick Stewart has told how the death of a friend’s partner drove him to campaign for the right to assisted suicide.

The Mirfield-born actor shared the tragic story of his friend David Pinder, whose partner committed suicide after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Gillian Lockwood, 53, sent Mr Pinder, a former Mayor of Mirfield, out to walk their dog and then suffocated herself with a plastic bag.

In an interview with a national newspaper, Mr Stewart said he supported assisted suicide and hoped he will be allowed to “die with dignity”.

“I have to consider the fact of my own mortality,” the actor said.

“I have come to see planning for death is simply another aspect of planning for life.

“It is part of a process of making sure the people you love will be taken care of, emotionally as well as practically.

“Sadly, because of the law in the UK, it cannot include anything to do with taking one’s own life or my wish for an assisted death should I become terribly ill”.

Mr Stewart said his friend had written to tell him of his partner Gillian’s death.

The actor described the UK’s laws about assisted suicide as “barbaric” and claimed Mr Pinder’s partner should have been allowed a choice.

He said: “So desperate was she to be free of a world that had initially misdiagnosed her cancer, and then refused her the chance to die in dignity.

“She had to die alone and in terrible pain. She ended her life in a terrible way, all alone.”

Mr Pinder said he had not realised the impact his partner’s death had made on Mr Stewart until he read the article.

“What annoys me is all these people who have no first hand knowledge of it,” he said.

“I am not saying assisted suicide should be compulsory but people should be allowed the choice.

The views of the people involved should be considered.”