The Court of Appeal has dismissed the claim made by prisoner Gavin Mellor that his human rights were breached by the refusal of access to artificial insemination services while he was in prison.
Last year, Mellor requested that he be able to attend a clinic so that his wife could be artificially inseminated with his sperm and they could have a child. The Home Secretary refused his request on the grounds that the grant of facilities for access to fertility services for prisoners and their partners was, for policy reasons, limited to exceptional circumstances. The Home Secretary did not believe that such circumstances existed in this case.
Mellor sought judicial review of that decision but leave to apply was not granted. Mellor appealed this decision, stating that the refusal was in contravention of his human rights, specifically under Articles 8 (respect for private and family life) and Article 12 (right to marry and found a family) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). He argued that artificial insemination was a way of exercising his rights that was compatible with his imprisonment.
The judges in the Court of Appeal stated that a primary purpose of imprisonment was punishment by the deprivation of certain rights and freedoms, including the pleasures of family life and the exercise of conjugal rights. This does not mean that a prisoner will never be able to exercise these rights, as the ECHR dictates that the deprivation of rights can only be done proportionately. Leave to appeal to the House of Lords was refused.