Desmond Tutu has said he supports assisted dying for the terminally ill.

His comments come after the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, dramatically revealed a change of heart over the issue.

Lord Carey dropped his opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill "in the face of the reality of needless suffering.

Writing for The Observer, the retired Anglican Archbishop of South Africa said he reveres "the sanctity of life but not at any cost".

He also commented on the manner in which Nelson Mandela's life was prolonged describing it as an "affront" to his dignity.

In his column, the 82-year-old said: "I think when you need machines to help you breathe, then you have to ask questions about the quality of life being experienced and about the way money is being spent."

Revealing how former South African leader Nelson Mandela was kept alive with intensive hospitalisation in the final stages of his life in order to be photographed with visiting politicians, he described it as "disgraceful."

"You could see Madiba [Nelson Mandela] was not fully there. He did not speak. He was not connecting. My friend was no longer himself. It was an affront to Madiba's dignity.

"Yes, I think a lot of people would be upset if I said I wanted assisted dying. I would say I wouldn't mind actually."

"I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying. I revere the sanctity of life - but not at any cost."

The Assisted Dying Bill - due for debate in the House of Lords on Friday "

The Church of England (C of E) has called for an inquiry into the issue.