Man who fears he may develop cancer wins latest round of DNA test fight
Three appeal judges have backed a High Court judge after an ‘unprecedented’ legal dispute.
A man who might be at risk of falling victim to a form of hereditary cancer has won the latest round of an “unprecedented” legal fight over DNA testing with a woman he suspects is his grandmother.
David Spencer thought that his father was William Anderson – who died several years ago – and wanted a stored DNA sample taken from Mr Anderson for medical purposes before death to be tested so that he could establish his paternity.
Mr Anderson’s mother, Valerie Anderson, was against the idea.
Last year Mr Spencer won a High Court fight and Court of Appeal judges have also now ruled in his favour.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson had analysed evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in Manchester in March 2016 – and ruled that testing should take place.
Mrs Anderson had then challenged that ruling in the Court of Appeal.
But three appeal judges have backed Mr Justice Jackson’s decision.
Lord Justice McFarlane, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Simon published a ruling on Wednesday after reviewing the case at a Court of Appeal hearing in London in October.
“In my judgment there is no basis for interfering with the judge’s decision that on the facts of the case the order for DNA testing should be made,” said Lady Justice King.
“This was a case of a claimant wanting to know his paternity for a sound medical reason and in my view, once the issues in relation to jurisdiction and the human rights obligations have been cleared away, the wording of the order made by the judge allowing the DNA testing to take place, was not only inevitable but right.”
The two other appeal judges said they agreed.
Detail of the case had emerged last year in a written ruling by Mr Justice Jackson published on a legal website.
He named people involved but gave no indication of where they lived.
The judge said Mr Spencer’s application was “apparently unprecedented” in England and Wales.
He outlined family histories which had led to litigation in his ruling.
Mr Spencer said his mother, Carol Spencer, had him told that his father was Mr Anderson.
Mrs Spencer had said the relationship ended when she was pregnant.
She had married another man – and he had been registered as Mr Spencer’s father.
That marriage had ended and Mrs Spencer had gone on to marry a man called Spencer.
Mr Justice Jackson said Mr Anderson had been diagnosed with a form of cancer a decade ago.
He said there was a history of cancer in the Anderson family.
Mr Spencer had said that, following Mr Anderson’s death in 2012, Mrs Anderson had contacted him and said he could be at risk.
He had subsequently launched legal action and asked for a DNA testing order.
Mrs Anderson had opposed testing – saying her son had provided a DNA sample during the course of medical treatment and was “entitled to a high expectation of confidentiality”.