Britain's most dangerous and notorious criminals can be kept behind bars for the rest of their lives, European judges have ruled.
Killer Jeremy Bamber and two other convicted murderers lost their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that whole-life tariffs condemning prisoners to die in jail amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment".
The whole-life tariff is not "grossly disproportionate" and in each case London's High Court had "decided that an all-life tariff was required, relatively recently and following a fair and detailed consideration", the judges ruled.
Bamber attacked the court's decision. In a statement released by his supporters, he said: "If the state wishes to have a death penalty, then they should be honest and re-introduce hanging. Instead, this political decision that I must die in jail is the death penalty using old age or infirmity as the method.
"It is a method whereby I'm locked in a cell until I'm dead - no matter if it should take 70 or 80 years to happen. I shall be dead the next time I leave jail. This despite that the trial judge said 25 years was punishment enough for a crime I did not commit."
Bamber's legal team, which is also representing convicted killers Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter, submitted the application to the ECHR in December 2009.
But their claims were strongly opposed by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who has said the Government has been "fighting the case vigorously and defending the principle of the whole-life tariff". Under current law, whole-life tariff prisoners will almost certainly never be released from prison as their offences are deemed to be so serious.
Bamber has been behind bars for more than 25 years for shooting his wealthy adopted parents June and Neville, his sister Sheila Caffell and her six-year-old twin sons Daniel and Nicholas at their farmhouse in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex. He has always protested his innocence and claims his schizophrenic sister Ms Caffell shot her family before turning the gun on herself.
Vinter was released from prison after serving nine years for the 1995 murder of work colleague Carl Edon, 22. Three years later he stabbed wife Anne White four times and strangled her, before being given a whole-life order. Moore was convicted of four counts of murder in 1996 after killing four gay men for his sexual gratification.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The Government strongly welcomes this decision. We argued vigorously that there are certain prisoners whose crimes are so appalling that they should never become eligible for parole."