She has long been a passionate advocate for assisted dying and now Dame Prue Leith will be sharing her views on the subject at the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, the restaurateur and television chef said she plans to thank Scots politicians for "grabbing the nettle so firmly" in supporting a Bill brought by Liam McArthur MSP.

Dame Prue became an advocate for dignity in dying after watching her older brother David die an agonising death in 2012 and says she would opt for assisted death should lawmakers in England follow those in Scotland.

She said: "I am so pleased to be invited to come and speak because I don't live in Scotland so it's not strictly my business but I come to Scotland a lot and my origins are all Scottish.

"It just seems to me such a wonderful thing that Liam McArthur is doing and so far ahead of England."

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Mr McArthur's proposal for his Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill, lodged in 2021, is the third such attempt to pass legislation to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

This, though, has progressed further than previous attempts, following a shift in public opinion on the topic and wider political support.

According to the charity Dignity in Dying, which is supporting Mr McArthur's event at Holyrood on Tuesday, polling consistently shows more than three quarters of the public support assisted dying.

The final proposals received 36 MSP signatories from across all parties – double the number needed to secure the right to introduce a full bill - and is expected to be introduced in early 2024.

It will then undergo Health Committee scrutiny before a Stage 1 debate and vote on the principles of the bill.

Dame Prue, who has Scottish roots and is Chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, said: "Thank God for Scotland because it's just showing England the way to go.

"Certainly MPs and MSPs are younger now and a bit more broad minded, which perhaps explains why this Bill is progressing now.

"And also perhaps for many people it's a religious thing, that God gives life and God takes it away and if you have that religious belief you are going to agree but the Christian religion is fading and so that may be helpful to our cause."

In 2012, Dame Prue witnessed her older brother David suffer terribly in the final stages of illness and the experience persuaded her of the merits of assisted dying.

She does, however, face opposition from her son, Daniel Kruger, a Conservative MP who is firmly against legalised assisted dying.

David, she said, "did not need to suffer the way that he did."

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Dame Prue added: "He endured weeks and weeks of pain and agony. When the morphine worked he was fine but the morphine only worked for three hours, not four, so for one hour in ever four he would be in screaming agony.

"And so when you see that and the effect it has on his children, his family, it is just horrific and so that got me on it.

"My chief opponent in this is my son. He worries a lot about people who are vulnerable or who might be coerced and might not have the agency to look after themselves and have their minds made up by grasping bureaucrats who want to free up beds in hospitals.

"But I think because he is religous it's hard for him. But I can't see a God, any God, who wants to see people suffer.

"It seems an odd thing to put on your god but I'm not religious so I don't understand how these things work."

Dame Prue recalls going to see her brother's consultant in the hospital and asking him to administer additional morphine to ease David's suffering.

"Miss Leith," she recalls him replying, "You do realise morphine is addictive?"

"I said, 'I don't care if he's high as a kite, I just want him out of pain," she said, "To which the doctor replied, 'Well, it's very dangerous and it could kill him.'

"That is the truth. Many, many doctors are kind enough to give you just a little bit too much morphine and what it does is it sedates them completely and they end up in a coma and then they die.

"Palliative sedation is making people so out of it that they don't know that they're there and then they die eventually but that's a long three day wait. I just don't see the point.

"What's the difference between doing that and doing it at a time agreed with the patient so they can say goodbye to all their relatives?

"There seems to me to be no difference."

Her other brother, she says, had a "perfect death"; three days before he died he saw his favourite movie, Top Gun, with his family and they all said their goodbyes and then he was given a bit more morphine, which knocked him out.

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"That doctor did his best," Dame Prue added, "but couldn't give him enough to kill him there and then, they had to wait for the morphine to do it slowly so that the doctor would not be accused of murder or mercy killing.

"The reason most doctors won't do that - most doctors pre-Harold Shipman would see their patients off when it was agreed. There would be a nod and a wink from the family."

Since Harold Shipman, she adds, most doctors are "too afraid".

Dame Prue, a judge on Great British Bake Off, said: "If a doctor is accused of a mercy killing then the doctor is suspended and the enquiry takes six months. What doctor is going to risk losing their job and their reputation?

"So it's much easier to simply not go round the wards when patients are due their morphine. They go round after the [medicine] trolley."

Her brother's doctor, she said, would say he only saw her brother after his dose of medicine when he would report feeling fine.

She appreciates people's concerns but says it is vital to have respect for others' views and points to international examples of successful assisted dying legislation.

Dame Prue added: "All these scare stories we get from our opponents about slippery slope and coercion just doesn't happen.

"In Oregan they've had an assisted dying law for terminally ill people much the same as Scotlands.

"In 25 years they have never repealed and never broadened it but there has never been an accusation of impropriety and the people of Oregon and very happy with it."

Some 11 American states; New Zealand; and all six Australian states, but not the two internal territories; all currently permit assisted dying.

Jersey, the Isle of Mann, Ireland and France are all also in the process of introducing legislation.

Dame Prue added: "I would love to know that I had an option to end my life if I wanted to because I was in unbearable pain. It seems to be such a reasonable thing to want."

Another issue she believes is vital is that administration of the matter itself should remain within the NHS and be a medical issue where doctors may opt out on ethical grounds.

The 83-year-old said: "If you're thinking of things from a patient's point of view, in an ideal world your doctor will look after you from birth to death.

"They will see you safely into the world and they will see you safely exiting the world and they will look after you in between.

"There can be nothing more comforting than knowing that your doctor is on your side."

Mr McArthur's bill specifically applies to terminally ill and mentally competent adults in Scotland and has a raft of safeguards in place such as the requirements for two doctors to independently confirm the person is terminally ill and that they have mental capacity.

The person signs a written declaration of their request, which is witnessed and signed by both doctors before a waiting period of 14 days to allow them to reflect on their decision.

The person must administer the life-ending medication themselves and it would continue to be a criminal offence to end someone’s life directly.

Dame Prue said: "I'm not trying to make the world kill themselves.

"That's ridiculous. I just want people to have the choice when they are terminally ill and in excruciating pain to get out of it.

"If you've had a good life do you really want to spend the last six weeks of it hating it and being unable to leave? It just seems a queer thing."

Of course there must be safeguards, however, she added: "There is a fundamental thing here that is so simple I can't believe you have to say it but whose life is it anyway? It's the patient's life.

"If they've had enough of it why should they go on bearing it?

"What is this nonsense that you must bear a life you don't want to go on with?"