London - Four murderers and a drug dealer are in line for taxpayer-funded fertility treatment so that they can father a child from behind bars.
The killers are demanding to be allowed to take part in IVF treatment despite serving life sentences. Ministers may be powerless to refuse because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to a private and family life.
Turning down the prisoners’ demands could lead to court action and compensation claims running into tens of thousands of pounds.
The cases will provoke outrage at the rights afforded to individuals who have committed shocking crimes, and spur demands for action against the power of European human rights judges, who are also demanding an end to the ban on prisoners voting.
Last year the Daily Mail revealed that a prisoner had be
that a prisoner had been given access to artificial insemination treatment on the NHS at a cost of around £2,000.
Since then, 13 applications have been made by inmates in England and Wales. Eight have been rejected but five remain in ministers’ in-trays.
The names and details of the inmates are protected by privacy laws, but three were convicted of murder, one of murder and aggravated burglary and the fifth of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.
Last night Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who has said he wants to ‘curtail’ the powers of the Strasbourg court, said: ‘There can be no clearer example of why we need changes to the human rights framework.
‘The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has extended its remit into areas which have little to do with real human rights issues and I intend to bring forward proposals about how we change that.’
Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, said: ‘When you commit a crime such as murder you should lose your rights and liberties.’ The doors were opened to a flood of new applications by a 2007 Strasbourg ruling in the case of a convicted killer, Kirk Dickson.
Dickson and a friend kicked to death a 41-year-old man in 1995 and he was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years.
He met his wife Lorraine through a prison pen pal scheme while she was serving 12 months for a £20,000 benefit fraud. They married in 2000 after her release but while he was still behind bars.
In 2001 David Blunkett rejected the couple’s application to authorise her access to sperm donation from him for IVF treatment.
With at least £20,000 in legal aid, they took the case to the High Court and the Court of Appeal but were rejected at every turn.
In 2007 the case went to Strasbourg, when Dickson was 35 and his wife 49.
Ministers fought the case, arguing that losing the opportunity to have children was an inevitable result of being jailed.
But the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Dicksons’ rights had been breached and handed them £18 000 in damages.
USING ‘THE RIGHT TO A FAMILY LIFE’
The opportunity for serious criminals to obtain taxpayer-subsidised fertility treatment is a strand of the catch-all Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The clause, which guarantees the right to private and family life, has been used by judges in Strasbourg and Britain to bring in new law on assisted suicide, immigration and freedom of speech.
Illegal immigrants and foreign criminals have repeatedly used the existence of girlfriends in Britain as evidence of a family life which must be protected under the clause, which means they cannot be deported. - Daily Mail