BBC Broadcaster Ray Gosling claimed to have smothered a gay lover who was suffering from Aids in the mid-1980s, has refused to co-operate with a police investigation into the alleged killing.
The 70-year-old made his declaration during a programme about dying shown on Tuesday night, when people struggling to cope with relatives suffering from Alzheimer’s and other illnesses had shared their stories with him.
Nottinghamshire police immediately launched an inquiry, while the BBC had to fend off criticism that it should have told detectives when it first learned of Mr Gosling’s statement during filming last December.
“I’m not going to tell [the police] anything. There are different kinds of law, you know. There’s a law that’s written in law books and there’s a law in your heart. Different laws carry different weights at different times,” he told reporters.
Anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing said Mr Gosling’s claims that he had smothered the man with a pillow made it “sound not like a case of assisted suicide but of intentional killing or murder”.
“It’s rather bizarre this was filmed more than two months ago and the BBC has been sitting on it and hasn’t informed the police and the case hasn’t been investigated,” said spokesman Peter Saunders.
The BBC said it had known about Mr Gosling’s statements before the broadcast, but said it did not have a legal obligation to bring it to the attention of the police. If tried and convicted, Mr Gosling could face 14 years in jail.
“Ray was made fully aware of the potential consequences of him making that confession. As part of our journalistic integrity we felt we needed to keep that revelation in the report,” a spokeswoman for the BBC said.
In the programme, Mr Gosling contemplates “dying: his own and everyone else’s”, and hears stories from people coping with terminal illness, or from those who are caring for the terminally ill.
Walking through a graveyard as he spoke directly to the camera, the award-winning documentary maker said: “Maybe this is the time to share a secret that I’ve kept for quite a long time. I killed someone once. He’d been my lover and he got Aids.”
Asked by the programme’s presenter if he had any regrets, he said: “Absolutely none. He was in terrible pain – I was there and I saw it. It breaks you into pieces.”
Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris called for an urgent House of Commons debate on assisted-suicide rules, but said that he did not believe that the Government would do so before the election.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer issued guidelines before Christmas that would make a prosecution unlikely where a relative or friend helped someone terminally ill to die, if they could show they did not benefit by the death.