A sperm donor who did not reveal that he suffered from an “inheritable” medical condition has been criticised by a High Court judge.
Mrs Justice Lieven said James MacDougall, who is from Nottingham and suffers from Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition which causes learning difficulties, acted irresponsibly.
The judge has outlined her concerns after considering issues relating to children Mr MacDougall had fathered, by three women.
She has named 37-year-old Mr MacDougall, who acted as a sperm donor through private arrangements, in a written ruling published online.
At a family court hearing in Derby, the judge said publishing Mr MacDougall’s name was an “unusual step”.
She said the normal approach in family courts was to “anonymise” parents so the identity of children was protected.
There were "strong grounds" for naming Mr MacDougall, judge says
“I take into account the fundamental irresponsibility of James MacDougall acting as a sperm donor whilst knowing that he had Fragile X Syndrome, an inheritable condition, without at the very least making it entirely clear to the mothers concerned the implications of Fragile X,” she said.
“James MacDougall knew that he could not be a sperm donor through a clinic because of his condition.”
The judge said Mr MacDougall had told how he thought Fragile X was “not serious” and it was for “the mothers to do the research”.
But she added: “Even if James MacDougall does not understand the true implications of Fragile X, he does know it prevents him acting through a donor clinic.”
She said she had “no confidence” that he would not act as a sperm donor in the future and “no confidence” in him “fully explaining to any woman the true implications of his Fragile X Syndrome”.
“There is therefore a very specific benefit in him being named in the hope that women will look him up on the internet and see this judgment,” she added.
“Publishing this judgment without anonymising James MacDougall raises the prospects of wider dissemination of the huge impact using James MacDougall as a sperm donor has had on these mothers.”
James MacDougall knew that he could not be a sperm donor through a clinic
Mrs Justice Lieven said Fragile X syndrome is an inheritable genetic condition which causes a “range of developmental problems including learning difficulties and cognitive impairment”.
The judge said in the past four years Mr MacDougall has acted as a sperm donor, through private arrangements, in a “large number” of cases.
He told her he is the father of 15 children.
The judge said four of those children are concerned in the case she has overseen.
She said he placed an advert as a potential sperm donor on a social media page for lesbian women seeking sperm donors.
The judge said that was how he made contact with the women involved in the case she was overseeing. He said he first acted as a sperm donor to help a friend.
Mrs Justice Lieven said she had dealt with a number of legal issues relating to the children at the centre of the case.
She indicated that the litigation was on-going.