Morning telly veterans Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have drawn the ire of disability rights campaigners after revealing they had sealed a death pact with each other, should their suffering become too much to bear.
The couple who were inseparable hosts of Good Morning for years have been criticised for their candid admission by right-to-life and disability rights campaigners opposed to assisted suicide, who claim it could normalise the idea of assisted dying for vulnerable people.
Leading disability rights campaigner Baroness Campbell told the Daily Mail that the couple – who run a popular book club risked misusing their influence as public figures by making declarations about helping one another to die.
She said: "They have a very influential voice and the people who will suffer will be those who are vulnerable to influence and coercion. 'While everyone has a right to an opinion, I don't think what they've done is responsible.
"It becomes problematic because they have a very prominent influence on people. They have a massive following but what they're not doing is thinking about how their decisions may impact upon other people and the adverse effect this could have on people."
Revealing the agreement struck by the couple who have been married for 26 years, Finnigan, 65, said: "We've made ourselves give each other a pledge along those lines. It's just the shock of death," she explained. "It is so final. I suspect that the closer you get to your own mortality, the more final it seems.'
Meanwhile, Madeley, 57, confided he had a vision of shooting himself dead with a pistol alone in a room after downing a last drink. "For me, it would be the locked room, the bottle of whisky and the revolver,' he said. 'I wouldn't want to mess around," he said.
Madeley revealed they had pledged to help each other end their lives by "giving a little push over the edge". Under British law, it is illegal for someone to assist another person to take their own life.
Assisted suicide pressure group, Dignity in Dying, said news of Richard and Judy's death pact was to be welcomed. A spokesman said: "This is a conversation that needs to be had and any discussion about it going on in the public sphere is a positive thing."