SIR PATRICK Stewart has urged MSPs to back Liam McArthur’s assisted dying bill. 

In a short video shared at an event in the parliament, the 81-year-old Star Trek and X-Men actor said people in Scotland “should not be forced to die in pain against their wishes.”

His intervention came as Mr McArthur updated colleagues on the progress of his bill.

Holyrood has twice in its 23-year history, rejected euthanasia legislation, but there is now significant cross-party support for a change in the law

Mr McArthur said he had “the sense that the political mood has finally caught up with where the public mood has been.”

The MSP hopes to formally introduce a bill early next year, which would allow adults who are both terminally ill and mentally competent the right to end their life.

Mr McArthur pledged to “take a pragmatic approach, listening to those who have concerns or questions as well as those who are strongly supportive”.

He said: “I firmly believe that the political tide is now turning.

“We need to get the detail right, of course, but I get the sense that the political mood has finally caught up with where the public mood has been for some time and that the circumstances are right for a change in the law that is long overdue, keenly anticipated and so desperately needed.”

The Lib Dem said there had been an “overwhelming response” to the public consultation on his proposal.

“The level of interest has surpassed anything we have seen for a Members Bill in the lifetime of this Scottish Parliament,” he added.

A summary of the consultation responses is expected to be published when Holyrood returns after the summer recess – with Mr McArthur insisting changing the law to permit assisted dying is “an opportunity that must be grasped”.

He stated: “We have seen how the law has been safely and successfully changed in states and nations around the world.

“For me, this is the next great liberal reform. In the interests of choice, dignity and compassion, the debate cannot be about whether, but rather how, we change the law here in Scotland.”

Sir Patrick has long been a campaigner for euthanasia. He spoke out in favour of Mr McArthur’s bill last year, telling The Times of a friend who was very sick with multiple cancers.

The actor added. “The palliative care she was offered in her final months simply could not help.

"Her suffering was so immense that she ended her own life in a truly horrific manner, involving multiple attempts.

“How can we continue to support the status quo when it forces dying people to resort to such drastic measures? It is beyond cruel.”

He added: “In California, where I have lived for many years, dying people are given excellent care, as well as the choice to die on their own terms.

"Should I find myself suffering at the end of my own life, this would bring me huge comfort. Assisted dying laws are the mark of a forward-thinking, progressive society.”

In the video shared with MSPs, the actor said: “Dying people in Scotland should not be forced to die in pain against their wishes. I am asking members of the Scottish Parliament to support Liam MacArthur's assisted dying bill.”

The comments come after former independent MSP Dennis Canavan spoke out against plans to legalise assisted suicide.

Mr Canavan, who has suffered the deaths of four of his children, including three from terminal illnesses, said that they “died in dignity”.

The former MSP insisted: “I do not accept that the option of assisted suicide is necessary to ensure dignity in death.”