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Inquiry launched after UK prisoner given right to have child from jail

06 June 2011

By Ben Jones

Appeared in BioNews 610

A public inquiry has been launched by the UK's Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke after a newspaper's freedom of information request revealed a prisoner was granted permission to provide sperm for use in artificial insemination with his partner while in custody.

The Daily Mail's request revealed five further requests of a similar nature are believed to be under consideration while a further sixteen have been rejected in the last four years.

The prisoner, whose name, offences and sentence could not be revealed, was allowed by prison authorities to have a child with his partner, who was not in custody. Mr Clarke has, however, denied he had personally authorised such a request.

While Mr Clarke has launched an inquiry into the circumstances in which the permission was granted, other MPs have spoken out against the decision made by the prison authorities.

Priti Patel MP said it that providing 'nasty, vile criminals the right to have a family' was 'extraordinary' and called the reasons for the decision 'human rights nonsense'.

Under the UK's human rights legislation the Prison Service (as a public authority) is required to act compatibly with the rights laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

It is believed the decision was made so as to ensure compliance with the requirement to respect private and family life - the same consideration behind the decision to release convicted burglar Wayne Bishop, last week, so that he could look after his children.

The combination of these two decisions apparently led Phil Davies MP to raise the concern that a prisoner could now father a child from prison and then demand to be released so as to care for it. 'The whole point of being in prison is that your liberties are taken away from you. What's the point of locking people up if this pseudo-court, with the help of Ken Clarke, is going to give them all their rights back?' he said.


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