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Prisoners, their partners and the right to family life

Date:16 JUL 2007

Emily Jackson Law Department Queen Mary University of London. Two recent cases have addressed the question of whether British prisoners and their partners should be afforded access to the means necessary for them to conceive a child. In both cases the prisoners concerned were denied access to artificial insemination (AI) and the approaches of the different courts were the same. In R (Mellor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2001] EWCA Civ 472 [2001] 2 FLR 1158 it was held that denying access to AI to prisoners could interfere with their right to found a family under Art 12 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 (the Convention) but only if it eliminated a prisoner's chance to start a family all together. The Government's policy was to allow access to AI to prisoners only in exceptional circumstances. In Dickson v United Kingdom [2006] 2 FLR 449 where denial of access to AI would have prevented Mr and Mrs Dickson from ever starting a family together the majority in the European Court of Human Rights found...

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