Britain's most dangerous criminals, including Jeremy Bamber, can be jailed for the rest of their lives, European judges rule
Britain's most dangerous murderers can remain behind bars for the rest of their lives, the European court of human rights has ruled.
The Strasbourg judges have dismissed an appeal from three murderers, Jeremy Bamber, Douglas Vintner and Peter Moore, that their "whole-life" sentences should be struck down because they have no hope of release.
Their lawyers told the human rights judges that the lack of any regular review of their progress in prison amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment" as they had been condemned to die in prison.
But the court ruling said that in each of the three cases the high court in London had decided that whole-life sentences were required relatively recently and following a fair and detailed consideration.
"All three applicants had committed particularly brutal and callous murders. To date, Vintner has only served three years of imprisonment, Bamber 26 years and Moore 16 years," says the ruling.
"The court did not consider that these sentences were grossly disproportionate or amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment. There had therefore been no violation of article 3 (banning inhuman or degrading treatment) in the case of any of the applicants."
There are 46 murderers who are serving whole-life tariffs without hope of release in prisons in England and Wales. They include the moors murderer Ian Brady; the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe; Rosemary West; and Levi Bellfield, who was convicted of murdering Milly Dowler.
Bamber, one of three who brought the Strasbourg appeal, attacked the decision in a statement released by his supporters: "If the state wishes to have a death penalty, then they should be honest and re-introduce hanging. Instead this political decision that I must die in jail is the death penalty using old age or infirmity as the method.
"It is a method whereby I'm locked in a cell until I'm dead ? no matter if it should take 70 or 80 years to happen, I shall be dead the next time I leave jail."
Bamber was jailed for shooting five members of his family dead in Essex in 1986. He has always protested his innocence, claiming his schizophrenic sister shot the victims before turning the gun on herself at their farmhouse at Tolleshunt D'Arcy.
Peter Moore, from Bagillt in Flintshire, was convicted of murdering four men for his sexual gratification. Douglas Vinter, of Normanby, Teesside, killed his wife and a work colleague.
A justice ministry spokesman said the government strongly welcomed this decision: "We argued vigorously that there are certain prisoners whose crimes are so appalling that they should never become eligible for parole.
"We are pleased that the European court has upheld the whole life tariff as a legitimate sentence in British courts."