Killer loses battle to be sperm donor for his wife

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The Independent Online

A jailed murderer lost a High Court battle yesterday to have his wife artificially inseminated with his sperm. Home Office lawyers said if the application by Gavin Mellor, 29, had been successful, other prisoners, including child abusers, could have the right to father children.

A jailed murderer lost a High Court battle yesterday to have his wife artificially inseminated with his sperm. Home Office lawyers said if the application by Gavin Mellor, 29, had been successful, other prisoners, including child abusers, could have the right to father children.

Mr Justice Forbes said the decision by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, not to let Mellor donate sperm was neither irrational nor unreasonable and refused him permission to appeal. He can still renew his application for a further hearing in the Court of Appeal.

Mellor, sentenced to life in 1995 for killing George Sims, 71, met his wife, Tracey McColl, while she was an administration officer at Gartree Prison, Leicestershire in 1997. She resigned so they could marry.

The judge said: "It was reasonable for the Secretary of State to take into account the fact that Mr and Mrs Mellor's relationship has not been tested in normal conditions, and its durability is thus uncertain."

The judge said that given her age, 25, his health and his expected release date, there was no reason to believe refusal of artificial insemination while he was in prison would prevent them from conceiving a child. Mellor could be released after 2006.

"Should that situation change, for example, if a fertility problem comes to light or there is reason to think Mr Mellor's release will be significantly delayed... they are at liberty to make a fresh application, in which event the matter will be reconsidered," the judge added.

The case is estimated to have cost the taxpayer £50,000 so far. An appeal could eventually go to the Lords. Mrs Mellor said: "I am going to speak to my solicitor and take it from there. I was not surprised because you build yourself up for it, but when you hear it, it's very upsetting. I don't know where we go from here. I'm just too upset to think about it."

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said: "Those who commitmurder should be given only the basic of human rights: three meals a day, a roof over their heads and forfeit all others, for murderers have taken away all of the rights of their victims for ever."

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