A judge has decided against authorising doctors to provide nutrition and hydration to a refugee on a four-month hunger strike.
Mr Justice Hayden concluded in a hearing at the Court of Protection the unnamed man should be allowed to say “no” if he wanted to.
The man stopped eating after becoming involved in a dispute with the Home Office about his age.
The judge said the man’s refusal to accept nutrition “should be respected”.
Mr Justice Hayden added every effort should be made to “persuade, cajole and encourage” the man to accept help, but that “decisions will ultimately be taken by him”.
Home Office dispute
The refugee, who settled in Bristol after fleeing his home in Gaza a decade ago, says he is 26, although immigration officials say they have assessed his age as 31.
Hospital bosses had asked the judge to consider whether the man was mentally capable of making his own decisions and said he was at a stage where he could rapidly deteriorate.
The man, who cannot be identified because of legal reasons, took part in the hearing from his hospital bed and had a one-to-one discussion with the judge.
Mr Justice Hayden said the man had been given permission to live in the UK and would gain no obvious benefits if immigration officials altered their age assessment.
But the man, who is taking legal action against the Home Office to try to get the age assessment changed, says his correct age is key to his identity.
“No effort should be spared in encouraging him to choose life,” said Mr Justice Hayden.