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05 DEC 2007

Prisoner wins right to father child by artificial insemination

Yesterday the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Britain had violated the right to respect for private and family life of a murderer and his wife by refusing them access to artificial insemination facilities whilst in prison.

Kirk Dickson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1994. He met his now wife, Lorraine, in 1999 through a prison pen pal network while she was also in prison.

The couple requested access to artificial insemination facilities to enable them to have a child together, arguing that it was their only opportunity to have a child together because Mrs Dickson would be too old to have a child when her husband could be released. When they were refused access in 2001 they commenced legal action.

In April 2006 the European Court of Human Rights rejected their appeal against the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett. However the court's Grand Chamber overturned that ruling, voting 12 to 5 in favour of allowing the couple access to IVF treatment and awarded them €5,000 in damages and €21,000 in costs.

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