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Dame Prue Leith issues renewed call for action on assisted dying

Dame Prue Leith has issued a further rallying cry for the right to end-of-life choice, saying she does not want her last moments to be “in a hospital in screaming agony”.

The television presenter, campaigner and patron of Dignity in Dying, said someone who is miserable, in pain, and living with an incurable disease should “have the right to step out of life”.

In her latest comments on the topic of assisted dying, Dame Prue described herself as “always an interfering woman” with firmly held views on the sensitive subject.

Her open letter to party leaders calling for a debate in Parliament on assisted dying when the next government is in place has so far received 235,969 signatures, just shy of the 250,000 target.

Discussion around the need for a law change has grown in recent months with moves towards one progressing in Scotland, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

The restaurateur and cookery school founder, speaking at the launch of the community and eco-minded Big Lunch event set to take place in June, told the PA news agency: “I am always an interfering woman, so I do campaign for quite a lot of sustainability but also really strongly for the right to die when you want to die.

“I am not wanting to force anybody to accept euthanasia or anything grim like that. I just think the people who have had enough of their life because they are in intolerable pain, they’re dying anyway, why should a good life end with three weeks or even three days of absolute agony when it could be cut short.”

Dame Prue has previously spoken about her elder brother David suffering a “really horrible death” from bone cancer more than a decade ago, and revealed her late husband Rayne Kruger asked doctors for “a bit of assistance” with dying.

Speaking on Wednesday, Dame Prue told PA: “I want to die peacefully in my own bed surrounded by my family. I don’t want to die in a hospital in screaming agony.

“Frankly, it is a great big secret. No one wants to talk about how many people die in real agony and also who just have absolutely had enough of their lives.”

In her open letter, Dame Prue calls for a “safe and legal option” to end a person’s suffering in a peaceful and dignified manner.

The Big Lunch 2024
Dame Prue Leith attends the launch event for this year’s The Big Lunch at the Phoenix Garden in London (Yui Mok/PA)

On the possible reasons for wanting assisted dying, she said: “For some people, it’s that they have lived a very long time, all their friends are dead, all their family is dead, they’re lonely.

“Of course, we should say well they shouldn’t be lonely but there is no good preaching about it, it doesn’t make it go away by saying we should do something about the loneliness.

“Yes, we should, we should do more about palliative care, we should do all we can to make people’s lives happy. But if they are totally miserable, and they’re in pain, and they have an incurable disease, for goodness sake they should have the right to step out of life.”

In 2023, she made a documentary with her son, Tory MP for Devizes Danny Kruger, exploring the conversation around assisted dying.

Channel 4’s Prue And Danny’s Death Road Trip delved into the duo’s own views on end of life choice, as well as confronting both sides of the debate.

Dame Prue was married to South African author Rayne for almost 30 years before his death from emphysema in 2002 at the age of 80.

In 2016, she married retired fashion designer John Playfair, with whom she presents the ITV series Prue Leith’s Cotswold Kitchen.