'A truly exceptional case': Court to decide on sterilisation of man with learning difficulties

The man’s lawyer stressed the case was not covered by the shadow of eugenics

The Court of Protection could make legal history this month if it sanctions the sterilisation of a man with learning difficulties who lacks the ability to give permission.

In what has been described as a “truly exceptional case”, Mrs Justice Eleanor King is set to rule whether it is in the best interests of a 36-year-old man from the Midlands with moderate to severe learning difficulties to be sterilised by means of a vasectomy.

The application was made by an NHS Trust and is backed by the man’s parents, GP, and local authority. It is said the man, who can only be referred to as DE for legal reasons, does not have the capacity to make the decision himself.

The man already has one son from his longstanding relationship. The court heard that DE does not want any more children but is unable to effectively obtain and use contraception. It was said becoming a father again would cause him “psychological harm”.

He is currently only able to see his girlfriend under supervision, to “keep them safe”. The court was told if another child was born it could be taken into care.

John McKendrick, representing the local authority, said the court had “the power to return DE’s independence to him”. He told the hearing, held at the High Court in London: “A vasectomy is in his best interest.”

The judge, who is expected to make her decision in a week, said the case was a “matter of great public importance”. But she also said she was “extremely concerned” about the effects the proceedings were having on DE. 

She added: “He has a child. He sees it and he likes playing with it. He sees value in his relationship to that child. Against that background, he is absolutely clear he does not want to have any more children.”

But in anticipation of the potential controversy that would be caused by the landmark decision, DE’s solicitor was keen to stress that the case “was not covered by the shadow of eugenics.”

Mr Angus Moon QC added: “It is not about a youngish man being given a vasectomy against his will. Evidence, in the official solicitors’ submission, is compelling that DE does want to have a vasectomy. This is an exceptional case and should not be seen as a green light for other applications for vasectomies in respect of other people with learning difficulties.”

Mr Moon told the judge that if she decides to allow the sterilisation it would be the “first judgment in this jurisdiction [England and Wales] in which permission has been given to carry out a vasectomy”.

It is believed to be only the second application for the sterilisation of a man to have come before the court. The first, in 1999, was refused.

The Independent has campaigned for the right to report on the workings of the Court of Protection – one of the most private courts in the country – for years.

DE’s parents were both present at the hearing, but did not want to add any comment. His mother wiped back tears as her husband thanked the court. The judge said she had the “utmost admiration” for the pair who have spent nearly three years on this issue. She added: “DE is a lucky man because he has got both of you.”"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect