DOCTORS have been given permission by a judge in a specialist court to amputate the foot of a mentally-ill East Lancashire man against his wishes.

Mrs Justice Lieven heard that the man's leg was infected and concluded that the operation would be in his best interests.

Specialists said the man, who suffers from schizophrenia and is in his early 60s, could die if the lower part of his leg was not removed. They said options were limited.

The judge gave doctors the go-ahead for the surgery after analysing evidence at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where judges consider issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions, in London.

Mrs Justice Lieven, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said the man could not be identified for legal reasons.

Bosses at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which is based in Blackburn, had asked her to rule that amputation would be in the man's best interests.

The judge heard evidence from specialists and legal argument from lawyers representing the trust and the man.

She spoke to the man via a telephone link to the court room, as part of the proceedings.

Mr Justice Lieven said the man "doesn't want surgery" and "particularly doesn't want to lose his foot".

She said he also "doesn't want to die".

The judge said she had not taken the decision "lightly" and told the hearing: "I am conscious I am making a decision to amputate someone's leg against their wishes."

She concluded that the man lacked the mental capacity to make decisions about treatment.

She said she would publish a written ruling outlining the reasoning behind her decision in the near future.