Why didn’t Swiss clinic tell me my healthy boy had gone there to die?

Chris Matthews and Emily Jane Davies
Daily Mail
2 Min Read
Outside the Swiss clinic where Alastair Hamilton, top right, went to die. Bottom right: Judith Hamilton.
Outside the Swiss clinic where Alastair Hamilton, top right, went to die. Bottom right: Judith Hamilton. Credit: The West Ausatralian

A Swiss clinic where a British man ended his life has apologised after they kept his death secret from his family.

Chemistry teacher Alastair Hamilton, 47, paid more than $20,000 to die at the Pegasos clinic in Basel.

His family only learned he had taken his life after police examined bank statements and found he had transferred thousands to the clinic.

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It initially refused to speak to them about his remains, saying it was “against our lawyer’s recommendations”.

Eventually the family received his ashes in the post, two months after he died.

Mother Judith said: “We weren’t given that chance to either be with him or in my case, drag him home, tooth and nail if I had to.”

Alastair Hamilton
Alastair Hamilton Credit: Supplied

Standing in front of the building where he died, she said: “It’s not the best place to be for your last view of Earth, is it? Bless him.”

It took the persistence of Mr Hamilton’s family, the Met Police, the Foreign Office and Interpol to discover what had happened to Mr Hamilton after he vanished last summer.

He told his parents he was visiting a friend in Paris when instead he was flying to Basel to end his life by lethal injection.

His brother Bradley said he was “robbed” of the chance of going to the clinic and “cuddling him whilst he did it”, and of “giving him a kiss goodbye”.

A representative of Pegasos apologised for failings in the way Mr Hamilton’s case was handled.

They told the Hamilton family that its procedures would now be brought closer into line with guidelines set by the Swiss Medical Association in 2022.

These say a family should be informed if a relative intends to die.

Judith Hamilton did not get to say godbye to her son.
Judith Hamilton did not get to say godbye to her son. Credit: ITV News

But the representative said Pegasos doesn’t believe in many of the guidelines.

Switzerland’s most famous clinic, Dignitas – where at least 540 Britons have died in the past 20 years – has strict rules that its clients must be terminally ill, suffering extreme pain or living with an “unendurable disability”.

But Pegasos, run by Ruedi Habegger, says its users do not need to be ill to kill themselves.

Its website says it will approve some one’s death request “in as little as a few weeks” as long as they are over 18.

Mr Hamilton’s family were prompted to talk about their experience amid discussions around assisted death in the UK, where it is currently illegal to help someone take their own life.

It comes as a young Dutch woman has been granted a request for euthanasia on the grounds of mental suffering.

Zoraya ter Beek, 29, who suffers from depression and borderline personality disorder, received the approval last week after wide criticism of the case.

The Netherlands is one of only three countries in the EU where assisted dying is legal.

Outside the clinic where Mr Hamilton died.
Outside the clinic where Mr Hamilton died. Credit: ITV News

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