U.K. Reporter Admits To Euthanasia; Spurs Probe

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Police in Britain have been questioning a veteran TV reporter after he revealed that he had suffocated his lover who was terminally ill with AIDS. Ray Gosling, now 70, did not disclose the name of his lover or when the man had died. He said he had suffocated him with a pillow to end his suffering.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

It's not every day that someone in the public eye admits on television to having killed someone. But that is exactly what happened earlier this week in Britain. The BBC aired a prerecorded show hosted by one of its veteran reporters in which he made a startling admission.

NPR's Rob Gifford reports from London.

ROB GIFFORD: Seventy-year-old Ray Gosling has been hosting programs on BBC television for decades. On Monday, in a documentary about death and dying, as he walked through a graveyard in his native city of Nottingham, he said it was time to share a secret that he had kept for a long time.

Mr. RAY GOSLING (Host, BBC Television): I killed someone once. He was a young chap. He had been my lover and he got AIDS. And in a hospital, one hot afternoon, doctors 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. And I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead. Doctor came back and I said he's gone. Nothing more was ever said.

GIFFORD: After the program, Gosling said he had no regrets, that his partner had asked him to do it if the pain became too great and that he was surprised at all the fuss. The police did not quite see it that way, arresting Gosling and questioning him for 30 hours on suspicion of murder. Gosling's lawyer says he has still not named the man he killed.

Meanwhile, the program has touched a nerve in Britain, which has been debating assisted suicide for some time. It's still illegal here, but more and more Britons are traveling to Switzerland where assisted suicide is allowed. Those in favor of changing the law say choosing when you die is just an extension of a person's general freedom of choice. Opponents say the law must stay as it is to protect the vulnerable, but that there is some flexibility for judges to show compassion.

Dr. Peter Saunders is head of the group Care Not Killing.

Dr. PETER SAUNDERS (Director, Care Not Killing): We think the law is very clear and right. It has, if you like, on the one hand a stern face, which deters abuse. On the other hand it's got a warm heart, which allows judges discretion in sentencing with a big range of sentences available.

GIFFORD: Ray Gosling is out on bail while the police investigation continues. Meanwhile, the British government is due to release next week new guidance on when prosecution should be brought for assisting suicide.

Rob Gifford, NPR News, London.

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