Iranian immigrant must be force fed because 'delusional disorder' renders him incapable of a decision on starvation, doctors tell High Court

50-year-old man stopped eating last May in protest at UK Border Agency's refusal to return his passport

An Iranian immigrant who has gone on hunger strike needs to be forcibly fed because he does not have the capacity to decide whether he should starve himself to death, doctors told the High Court today.

The 50-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stopped eating in May last year in protest at the UK Border Agency's refusal to return his passport.

The man, who appeared in court emaciated, with sunken cheeks but nonetheless chatting animatedly to his Farsi translator, claims he is making a protest against his treatment at the hands of the immigration authorities.

But doctors treating him say he suffers from a “delusional disorder” that hinders his ability to make a genuine decision based on free will.

The man's NHS Trust is asking Mr Jutice Baker, sitting in the Court of Protection, to allow them to use “such reasonable force and restraint that is neccessary” to administer both artificial nutrition and anti-psychotic medication. Over the past few months his weight has hovered around 45 kilograms with an equivalent body mass index of 15 - the point where patients are categorised as severely underweight.

A temporary order has been in place since December allowing doctors to force feed the man via a nasal tube and the court must decide whether to make such an order permanent. Clinicians also want to be able to administer anti-psychotic medication but in lower doses than normal because he has lost so much weight and doctors are not sure how his body will react to the drugs. He often has to be sedated to receive nutrition. But without force feeding, doctors say, the man would would die within 10 days if he stopped taking water and within 35 days if he refused artificial nutrition.

The man, who was a doctor in Iran and is expected to give evidence in court tomorrow, came to Britain in August 2011 on a six month visa to learn English. He applied for asylum and was turned down twice. In May 2012 the UK Border Agency confiscated his passport and said they would only give it back if he returned to Iran.

The man went on hunger strike but shortly afterwards he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and has remained in hospital since July.

His consultant psychiatrist, who cannot be named but works at an NHS Trust based in the South East of England, took the stand to detail how the man was a “complicated patient” whose delusional disorder stopped him from making balanced decisions about his life.

She detailed how he has a “relatively rare delusional disorder” with persecutory elements. He often believes Iranian security agents are monitoring him, has shown paranoia towards the colour red and believes people have tried to poison him.

Although he has regularly shown a determination to starve himself to death, she said, he has also thanked doctors for saving him during instances when he has been accutely dehydrated and needed emergency treatment.

“He has said he would like a life ahead of him and he wants to live,” she said. “He wants to have a life, a job and he talks of things he'd like to do if he had a future.”

The Official Solicitor, the lawyer appointed by the government to look after those who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves, has agreed with the NHS Trust that it is in the man's “best interests” to receive “life-preserving treatment”.

Justice Baker has indicated that he will reserve judgement and make a final decision within the next two weeks.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home