Former UK Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption has cruelly told a stage 4 bowel cancer sufferer her life was "less valuable" than others live on national television.
Appearing on the BBC's The Big Questions to discuss the cost of lockdown, the civil liberties campaigner went toe-to-toe with cancer sufferer Deborah James.
Host Nicky Campbell invited guests to discuss the cost of lockdown and whether it was "punishing too many for the greater good".
Sumption argued that vulnerable people should be able to isolate while the rest of the country continues on their lives without lockdown.
He said: "All lives are not of equal value - the older you are, the less valuable yours is because there's less of it left."
Former UK Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption has cruelly told a stage 4 bowel cancer sufferer her life was "less valuable" than others live on national television. Photo / BBC / Instagram
But his assessment was met with criticism from 39-year-old podcaster and cancer sufferer James, whose recent cancer operation was just six weeks ago.
James, who has had 17 tumours in her life responded saying: "With all due respect I'm the person who you say their life is not valuable, I live with metastatic bowel cancer."
Sumption then butted in, responding: "I didn't say your life was not valuable, I said it was less valuable."
James then bit back.
"Who are you to put a value on life? In my view, and I think in many others, life is sacred and I don't think we should make those judgment calls.
"All life is worth saving regardless of what life it is people are living.
"I'm fully aware and I've seen first hand and said goodbye to best friends in terms of collateral Covid is causing but at the same time I'm grateful to be somebody who is kept alive because of the NHS...
"Only six weeks ago I was in intensive care for a cancer operation that has got me back up on my feet and without that I wouldn't be here.
"And we have to protect the NHS to allow the collateral to be as minimal on all health conditions as possible."
Viewers were quick to leap to James' defence, calling Sumption "ignorant" and "smug".
"I actually cannot believe he said that. And to repeat in such a smug disgusting way! You are incredible for remaining so graceful in that situation. Every life is worthy, valuable and special. And you certainly are one very special person," one person said.
Another added: "I'm staggered by his ignorance."
A third said: "How you stayed composed in the face of such an astoundingly disgusting comment I will never know. All lives have value. What a horrific man and a horrendous sentiment."
Sumption also argued there was "no real evidence" that shows lockdowns are an effective method for reducing Covid-19 fatalities.
Instead, he says statistical studies show no relationship between lockdowns and morality, but show variables which determine mortality depend on the age boundary and underlying health of the population.
Covid attacks vulnerable groups... 90 per cent of the deaths from Covid have been of people over 70 and 90 per cent of those have other very serious underlying clinical conditions.
"Instead of isolating the old and the vulnerable who need it, we have chosen to isolate everybody.
"The argument is that if the young, fit and healthy get Covid they will pass it on to the old and vulnerable but that is not correct because the old and vulnerable can isolate themselves if they want to."
The former judge also accused the British state of abusing their powers and keeping the UK "under a form of house arrest" for locking down the country.
"During the Covid-19 pandemic the British state has exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted.
"This has taken effective legal control enforced by the police over the personal lives of the entire population, who they could meet, what they could do, even within their own homes.
"For three months it placed everybody under a form of house arrest qualified only by their right to do a limit number of things approved by ministers
"All of this has been authorised by ministerial decree with minimal parliamentary involvement.
"It has been the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country. We have never sought to do such a thing before, even in war-time and even when faced with health crises far more serious than this one.
"I do not doubt the seriousness of the epidemic but I believe that history will look back on the measures taken to contain it as a monument of collective hysteria and governmental folly."