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Prisoner’s rights to autonomy and bodily integrity entitle him to refuse food and medical assistance

By: Hannah Godfrey BL

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High Court gives written judgment with reasons for having granted declaratory relief following an urgent plenary hearing, holding that: (a) the defendant, who was serving a long prison sentence, had full capacity to decide to refuse food and medical treatment and fully understood the ultimate consequences of his protest; and (b) while a prisoner lost many of his constitutional rights as a result of incarceration, as a human being he retained the constitutional rights to personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

Plenary proceedings seeking declaratory relief - declarations sought that the defendant has capacity to refuse food medical assistance, that such a decision remains operative should the defendant lose such capacity and that plaintiff's decision not to feed the defendant against his wishes is lawful - defendant is serving sentence for rape and sexual assault of his daughter - Court of Appeal had dismissed his appeal against conviction and his application to adduce fresh evidence that his daughter had lied where the court determined that the evidence was not credible - defendant commenced hunger strike in March 2020 - urgent plenary hearing ordered - defendant consented to the orders sought - whether defendant had capacity to refuse food and medical treatment - whether orderly conduct of justice system took priority over the defendant's constitutional rights to autonomy and bodily integrity.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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