Iranian immigrant suffering 'delusional disorder' begs judge to be allowed to continue hunger strike even if it kills him


A hunger striking Iranian man begged a High Court judge this afternoon to let him continue his fast even if it results in his eventual death.

The 50-year-old man, a former doctor who cannot be named for legal reasons, stopped taking food and liquid in protest at the UK Border Agency's refusal to return his passport after his asylum application failed.

Psychiatrists say the man has a “delusional disorder” which has affected his capacity to use rational free will to fast to death and his treating doctors want the court to allow them to force feed him. An interim order has been in place since early December allowing him to be forcibly fed and hydrated but they want the order to be permanent until and if he regains capacity.

The man insists, however, that his protest is a deliberate decision he has made using rational free will.

In an emotional plea to the Court of Protection today he called on Mr Justice Baker to stop doctors from force feeding him.

Speaking through a Farsi translator he described how wanted to leave Britain but had been in limbo ever since his asylum application had been refused.

“I am currently living like a prisoner in this country,” he said. “I don't have permission to leave this country, nor do I have permission to stay. If you place yourselves in my shoes, in the position of somone who is not allowed to leave this country, nor study or live a normal life, how would you react?”

He later added: “I have decided to go on with my hunger strike regardless of the consequences.”

Asked by Mr Justice Baker whether he recognised that those consequences “will be that you will die” the man replied: “Under no circumstances do I wish to die. I wish to study, to live a normal life. However if I am to live like a prisoner I will continue my hunger strike.”

The judge reminded the man, who says he fled political persecution in Iran, that it was not in the Court of Protection's power to decide whether or not he remained in the country. The judge added that the UK Border Agency showed no sign of being moved to return his passport because of his hunger strike. But the man has nonetheless vowed to continue his protest.

Earlier this week, three treating clinicians testified that the man, who is being treated at a hospital in the South East of England, “lacked capacity” to decide whether it was a good idea to go on hunger strike and called on the judge to approve the continued administration of nutrition and hydration.

As the former doctor took the stand today he was questioned by a barrister representing the Official Solicitor, the government appointed official who represents in the Court of Protection those who have lost the capacity to make decisions for themselves. It is the Official Solicitors job to make sure that they protect the “best interests” of incapacitated people - which can range from those in a coma to more complicated patients where capacity is variable because of, for example, learning difficulties or mental health issues.

Much of the questioning centred around what the Official Solicitor's representative described as the “unusual claims” the Iranian man has made about his persecution in Iran and what he believes to be the continued surveillance by Iranian intelligence agents since leaving the country.

His doctors previously testified that the man's psychiatric disorders often took on a persecutory tone with delusions of grandeur. In a will he wrote during one period of hunger striking last year he alleged that his home and car in Iran had been bugged by Iranian security forces; that an attempt to apply for a credit card was stymied by intelligence agents; that Iranian students in Cambridge pressured him to return to Iran and see the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and that Iranian agents had tried to poison his food on two occasions while he lived in South London.

Under questioning, the man said that while he believed his home and car had been bugged back in Iran, he may have “misunderstood” the other events because he was under “intense pressure at the time”. He thanked his treating clinicians for the care they had shown him over the past five months but said he believed their diagnoses that he suffered from a delusional disorder were wrong.  

Mr Justice Baker has called for further written submission from lawyers and said he would hand down a reserved judgement as soon as possible.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor