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Father sues clinic for letting ex get pregnant secretly with frozen embryo

24 July 2017
Appeared in BioNews 910

A father is suing a London fertility clinic for £1 million after his ex-partner secretly conceived his baby via IVF following their split.

The UK High Court heard on 19 June 2017 that his former partner had tricked doctors into helping her conceive using a frozen embryo that had been fertilised with his sperm prior to their separation, resulting in their six-year-old daughter.

He is suing the clinic for breach of contract, and seeking monetary damages to cover the costs of raising his child, in addition to covering legal fees.

The embryo transfer took place in October 2010, five months after the 'volatile and rancorous' relationship broke down, at IVF Hammersmith based in Harley Street, London.

The couple had previously conceived a son, now eight-years-old, using IVF and had frozen further embryos for possible future IVF cycles after signing an 'agreement for cryopreservation' back in 2008.

Michael Mylonas QC, representing the father, explained that the clinic performed the procedure in breach of a safeguard clause stating that 'in the event of divorce or separation, the IVF unit will only thaw or replace embryos if both [parents] give written consent'. 

Mylonas added that the 'mother had forged the claimant's signature in order to procure the thawing of one of their embryos', thus fraudulently misleading the clinic as to believe they had acquired sufficient permissions for such a procedure.

Dr Audrey Giles, a handwriting expert, supported the claimant's account of events, telling the court she was '99 percent sure' that the father's signature had been traced and forged on the 'consent to thaw' paperwork.

Jeremy Hyam QC, representing IVF Hammersmith, argued that the clinic 'did not expect - nor are [they] to be faulted for not expecting - duplicity of this nature', and consequently should not be expected to offer any compensation to the father. 

The fertility medics involved in the procedure claim they were only made aware of the couple's separation 18 months after the child had been born. In addition, the father's 'informed written consent' had been correctly obtained on a number of documents in earlier meetings the father had attended throughout the IVF process.

The mother denies any forgery or action without the father's approval. She is the subject of a separate claim brought by the clinic.

The hearing continues.

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