Sperm donor who fathered children by three women kept genetic condition a secret

James MacDougall did not declare he suffers from Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition which causes learning difficulties


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 suffers from 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 MacDougal, 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 MacDougal’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.

The High Court
The High Court

But she said there were “strong grounds” for naming Mr MacDougal.

“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.”