Exclusive: Taxpayer-funded study by euthanasia supporters 'fatally flawed'

The Government is under fire for funding a study on euthanasia that's being run by researchers who support assisted dying.

Opponents are angry, claiming the study asking doctors and nurses for their views on euthanasia is biased and flawed.

The study is being led by two Auckland researchers, Dr Phillipa Malpas and Dr Pam Oliver, who told participants "we are independent".

The government is copping flack for funding a study on euthanasia which is being run by researchers who support assisted dying. Source: 1 NEWS

But they didn't reveal they're members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society which is pushing for a law change to let doctors help patients die.

The lead researcher, Dr Malpas, supports euthanasia.

"We're actually not seeing the kind of abuses that people worried about. We're not seeing the slippery slope," she told TV ONE's Breakfast programme in 2011.

Before the study began, a reviewer questioned her links with the pro-euthanasia lobby, asking, "Does this not have to be declared?"

But it wasn't.

The Care Alliance, which opposes euthanasia, says the researchers weren't transparent.  

"I think that they have misled the participants," said Matthew Jansen, Care Alliance secretary.

The survey is part of a three-year project which received $109,000 from the government.

I was appalled. This is shabby research. - Matthew Jansen, Care Alliance secretary

"Did they know what they were getting into? And if so, what the hell were they thinking?" Mr Jansen asked.

The survey is meant for doctors and nurses only. 

But ONE News accessed it online and found it easy to submit fake responses.

What's more, the researchers cited Wikipedia as a source.

"I was appalled. This is shabby research," Mr Jansen said. 

Palliative care doctor Amanda Landers believes the findings will be used as a political tool.

"It will make the public feel that doctors and nurses are agreeable to the assisted dying changes. And I don't think that's true because the survey itself is fatally flawed," Dr Landers said.

The purpose of the study is to shape "any future laws" around euthanasia. The Government's Health Research Council told ONE News it will now review its involvement. 

Auckland University says the researchers are independent and their views do not influence their work.

The survey process was approved by an ethics committee. But that's not enough for critics, who want the project scrapped.