A MAN who saw his own children suffer for years after being born with severe disabilities is supporting new legislation on assisted suicide.

Peter Sipthorp, of Leysbourne, Chipping Campden, believes the Government should pass a new law which would allow doctors to help terminally ill people to die to relieve their suffering.

MPs will be given a free vote on Lord Falconer's Bill to legalise 'assisted dying', which would enable doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of drugs to people who have less than six months to live.

The proposed legislation is expected to come before Parliament in the next few months.

Currently under the 1961 Suicide Act, it remains a criminal offence carrying up to 14 years in jail to help someone to take their own life.

Mr Sipthorp, aged 62, said he sympathised with the issues surrounding assisted dying after his two sons were both born severely disabled and his own father died from cancer of the oesophagus.

His son John from his first marriage, lived until he was 23, while his brother Daniel lived until he was nine and their conditions meant both needed 24-hour care.

"I'm very much in support of the legislation," he said. "In my first marriage I had two sons who were born arguably into a permanent vegetative state. Neither had any senses and were never able to hold the weight of their head, the first sign of development.

"It was awful for them. I don't like to see suffering. It seems to me we're almost being more humane to animals than we are to humans. We're inflicting suffering on these poor children because we've got the technology to keep them alive that 50 years ago we didn't have.

"In the interests of humanity would it not be wise to allow assisted dying in these circumstances when parents, medics and a judge agree that in the interests of the child this is the correct course of action?"

Mr Sipthorp, who also has a healthy daughter, said when his father was at the end of his life six years ago, he expressed a wish to be allowed to go home to his farm in Stretton-on-Fosse rather than stay in hospital.

"We can't chose very often where we die and if we're terminally ill we don't have any chance to decide as to when we die," he said.

"I think if people reach a position where they want to have some assistance with their death I think it's a position that should be open to them."

Mr Sipthorp is due to meet with Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on Saturday, April 5 to discuss the new legislation.