LONDON, April 24, 2002 ( – In a startling decision UK High Court Justice Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has granted a psychotic violent prisoner the right to “refuse medical treatment” for a self-inflicted wound which he hoped would kill him. The man, who can only be identified as W. told the justice by video link that he had been mutilating his own right leg since December last year in the hope that the wound would turn septic and cause his death.

“I am doing this because of the conditions I am kept in. I am kept under close supervision and I am banged up 23 hours a day in my cell and have never been given any help with my problems. I am poisoning my leg so that the blood poisoning transfers through my body and hopefully kills me. I would like to die due to the conditions I am suffering,” said W.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was incredulous at Butler-Sloss’s ruling. “We can understand the right to refuse treatment but this person is psychotic,” he said. “What she is effectively granting here is a right to suicide, which has never been a right in common law.”

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