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Brighton suicide workshop by Dr Death axed
A controversial suicide workshop due to be held in Brighton has been cancelled - but a talk about euthanasia will still go ahead.
Australian euthanasia expert Dr Philip Nitschke, who has been dubbed “Dr Death” by critics, has told The Argus the proposed workshop at the Brighthelm Centre will not go ahead after a request by its reverend, David Coleman.
Dr Nitschke said: “He thought it was going to be too much if we have the workshop.
“We said we understood and we are very grateful that he was prepared to be as courageous as he was because he faced quite a lot of criticism to welcome us to even speak.
“He did feel it was important to let people listen to different sides of the argument.”
Dr Nitschke was held at Heathrow Airport on Saturday for nine hours and questioned before being let into the country for a week.
While in Britain the doctor, who is from pro-euthanasia group Exit International, will hold a series of public meetings and workshops in Bournemouth, Stroud and Glasgow.
The workshops will be held behind closed doors to members of Exit International, which people can join, and will go through a list of different suicide methods.
On Wednesday the roadshow will come to Brighton - the only place that the workshop will not be held.
Dr Nitschke explained: “When he asked us not to have one of the closed meetings we said yes.
“That was because he was experiencing some criticism and pressure. I talked to him on the phone from Australia and he was wonderful.
“We are very grateful that he is supporting the process of allowing people to voice their opinions on this issue.”
Earlier this month Reverend Coleman, from the United Reformed Church, which manages the Brighthelm Centre, defended his decision to allow Dr Nitschke to speak.
He said at the time that he neither supported or condoned Dr Nitschke or Exit International but that he believed in people’s right to hold a discussion on it.
Yesterday The Argus was unable to contact him for comment.
Sussex Police have said holding a meeting discussing euthanasia could be in breach of the law but that it would depend on what was discussed.
The Suicide Act states that a person commits an offence if they encourage or assist a suicide.
A spokeswoman for campaign group Dignity in Dying, which has been a staunch critic of the doctor, welcomed the cancellation of the workshop.
She said: “It's a good thing that he has agreed not to do the workshop. Overall we are quite concerned about the workshops. They are irresponsible and dangerous.”
Last year Dr Nitschke was banned from speaking at the Langham Hotel in Eastbourne and at Brighton Racecourse in October after heavy criticism.