The prisons minister has ordered an immediate review into the serial killer Levi Bellfield’s request to get married in prison, describing the proposal as “absolutely appalling”.
Bellfield, who murdered Marsha McDonnell, Amelie Delagrange and Milly Dowler, is engaged and has requested a prison wedding, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.
It is understood that Bellfield’s application is being processed and he would need the permission of the prison governor to marry at HMP Frankland in Durham.
Speaking to Sky News, the prisons minister, Victoria Atkins, said the news called into question the workings of the Human Rights Act, saying Bellfield had a right under article 12 to have his application for a wedding considered.
When asked about the request, Atkins said: “I just want to reassure people, I understand an application has been made that has not been decided yet, and he most certainly has not yet married, but, if I may, he’s currently got the right under article 12 of the Human Rights Act to get married … or they have the right to have the application to be considered by prison governors.
“I very much welcome the debate we’re about to have about the bill of rights and looking at human rights for the United Kingdom for the 21st century. Believe me, I’ll be raising this.”
News of the story, which first appeared in the Sun, said Bellfield proposed to his fiancee in front of prison staff.
Speaking to the newspaper, the former justice secretary Robert Buckland said: “Milly never got to see her wedding day. It cannot be right that he gets to have his from her. People will be rightly shocked to hear that a man capable of such depraved crimes and is rightly imprisoned is able to form a relationship of this kind.”
Bellfield was given a whole-life term for murdering McDonnell, 19, in 2003, and for murdering Delagrange, 22, and attempting to murder Kate Sheedy, 18, in 2004.
He was already serving this sentence when he went on trial for killing Milly, who was abducted while walking from school to her home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002.
Bellfield was found guilty of abducting and killing the 13-year-old after a trial at the Old Bailey in 2011.