3 OCTOBER 1992, Page 23

Cox and conscience

Sir: Since Ludovic Kennedy and I have a perfectly sincere difference of opinion on the subject of euthanasia generally and the case of Dr Nigel Cox in particular, and since he regards my views with enough respect to devote a considerable part of his article ('What would they have done', 26 September) to rebutting them, he ought to have read me more carefully. I did not criti- cise Dr Cox for his act, nor did I say that, in his position, I should have done nothing. (Nor was I ignorant of the details of Mrs Boyes's condition: I began my piece in the Sunday Times with a harrowing description almost identical to his own.) My argument was, I admit, a difficult and paradoxical one, but was nothing like the brutal doc- trine which Ludovic Kennedy attributes to me. What I actually said was that Dr Cox was not wrong to do what he did but nei- ther was the jury wrong to find as they did. In his position, I would hope to have had the courage to make the same decision as Dr Cox, while at the same time recognising that my act of conscience could never be sanctioned by law. Perverse as it may seem, there are some moral actions which may never be legalised because their potential for misuse is too great. I accept completely the humanity and compassion which prompts Ludovic Kennedy to argue as he does. What I ask him to accept is that there are moral dilemmas which confound human reason.

Janet Daley

15 Cape! Road, East Barnet, Hertfordshire