TV Presenter Ray Gosling Arrested for Mercy Killing

UK police arrest TV presenter Ray Gosling on suspicion of murder.

February 17, 2010, 10:41 AM

LONDON, Feb. 17, 2010 — -- U.K. police today arrested award-winning British TV presenter Ray Gosling on suspicion of murder. This comes after the veteran broadcaster, based in Nottingham, England, said that he suffocated a former lover suffering from AIDS.

Gosling, 70, made the startling confession on camera, on the BBC television program, "Inside Out," broadcast Monday night.

The program focused on people faced with difficult end-of-life decisions, and Gosling said that listening to the stories of others compelled him to "share a secret that I have kept for quite a long time."

As he walked through a graveyard, Gosling said, "I killed someone once [...] He was a young chap, he'd been my lover and he got AIDS."

"In a hospital one hot afternoon, the doctor said, 'There's nothing we can do,' and he was in terrible, terrible pain."

"I said to the doctor, 'Leave me just for a bit' and he went away. I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead," Gosling said.

"The doctor came back and I said, 'He's gone'. Nothing more was ever said."

Today, Gosling's lawyer Digby Johnson told ABC News that Gosling was "shocked" by his arrest. "He is having to answer questions about very distressing matters and is in an unfamiliar setting, in an uncomfortable situation," Johnson said.

The investigation by Nottinghamshire police is still in its early stages. In addition to questioning Gosling, police also spoke to BBC staff working on the program, "Inside Out."

A BBC spokesperson told ABC News that the corporation "broadcast Ray Gosling's revelation for reasons of journalistic integrity. We believe we have handled the report sensitively and appropriately."

"We kept him fully informed about our representation of his story in the report and he understood that a revelation of this nature could have a number of consequences."

"Since transmission we have been approached by the police and are cooperating fully."

Ray Gosling: 'I Will Say Nothing' to Police

In an interview aired on Sky News Tuesday the veteran broadcaster said he will not say anything to police. "I will say nothing," he insisted, "even if they torture me."

Assisted suicide is illegal in England, and carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail. Gosling claims that he had made a pact with his former lover stating that he would help him to end his life if he suffered from terrible pain as the result of an incurable illness.

James Harris, head of campaigns and communications for Dignity in Dying told ABC News that Gosling "could be charged" but "the key issue is one of consent."

"First, we have to see if there is evidence that a crime was committed. Then, whether it is in the public interest to prosecute him," Harris said.

But pressure groups opposed to assisted suicide say that Gosling's actions are criminal. Alistair Thompson, spokesman for the Care Not Killing Alliance, told ABC News, "this was certainly a crime, not an assisted suicide."

"It's a deeply worrying case handled irresponsibly by the BBC," Thompson said.

"It is a myth that there are tens of thousands of people living in British hospitals in a state of terrible pain," he added. "There is excellent palliative care available to patients facing terminal illnesses here."

"We need tough laws against assisted suicide, otherwise it will open the way for people to prey on the aged, the physically and mentally disabled."

Ray Gosling Claims 'Absolutely No Regrets'

In a radio interview aired on the BBC's Radio 4 "Today" program Tuesday morning, Gosling said that he did not want to take a stand on the issue. "I am not making a case... not making a cause about it," he said.

But, he said, "there is a case for talking about it. It is something that happens in peoples' lives. Dying is a part of life."

He also said that not all members of his former lover's family were aware of how he died. "Some know, some don't. It's best that way. Let it be."

Harris described the situation as "very sad," saying, "we have a situation where people are taking matters into their own hands [...] people are suffering and making decisions behind closed doors."

He clarified, however, that Dignity in Dying "does not advise people on how to break the law, no matter how much we sympathize with specific cases. We want to change the law instead."

Gosling has repeatedly said that he has "absolutely no regrets" about what he did.

"When you see that much pain -- I hope it never happens to you, I hope it never happens to anybody, but I was there and I saw it and it's terrible. It breaks you -- just into pieces. What to do? Let him carry on living? Such terrible pain? What do you do?"

Zoe Magee contributed to the reporting of this story.

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