A judge has taken the rare step of naming an online sperm donor who fathered 15 children despite knowing he had an incurable genetic disorder.
Mrs Justice Lieven said James MacDougall, who has Fragile X syndrome which causes learning difficulties, acted irresponsibly when advertising on a social media page for lesbian women seeking sperm donors.
She said there were “strong grounds” for naming the 37-year-old in a written ruling published online.
The judge outlined her concerns after overseeing a case involving four of the children Mr MacDougall had fathered, by three women.
He reportedly signed agreements saying he did not want any contact with some of his 15 children, yet applied to the Family Court for orders allowing him to spend time with four of them.
“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,” said the judge.
“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.”
The judge said she had dealt with a number of legal issues relating to the children at the centre of the case, and indicated the litigation is ongoing.