A pair of predatory paedophiles who murdered a woman after she threatened to expose their abuse have lost a human rights challenge over a bid to see each other in jail.

Homosexuals Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan had sought damages of pounds 35,000 each for "hurt feelings" after claiming they were the victims of sexual discrimination.

O'Neill and Lauchlan were jailed for life after they were convicted of murdering 39-year-old Allison McGarrigle in Largs, in Ayrshire, in 1997 and disposing of her corpse at sea. Her body was not found.

They complained that their right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been violated because prison authorities refused to arrange prison visits for them.

But a judge said: "I have rejected the petitioners' claim principally for the reason that the existence they had together pre-incarceration, focused as it was on finding boys and vulnerable youths whom they could groom and sexually abuse, does not engage, or has not been shown to engage the 'family life' component of Article 8 ECHR on which they rely."

Lord Stewart said: "The joint petitioners are Charles O'Neill (52) and Wiliam Lauchlan (39). Mr O'Neill and Mr Lauchlan are predatory paedophiles, a gay couple (so it is averred in the petition) convicted of crimes of extreme depravity, imprisoned for life with minimum terms of 30 years and 26 years respectively, locked up in different prisons, HMP Glenochil and HMP Edinburgh."

The pair raised a judicial review at the Court of Session of the Scottish Government's failure to respect their ECHR rights and claimed that it had failed to adequately respect their right to a family and private right.

The judge heard at a continued hearing in the action that the prison authorities accepted they had been in a same sex relationship before they were taken into custody in 2008 and that since the case first came to court in November last year one inter-prison for them had already been facilitated.

Lord Stewart said he had decided that the Scottish Prison Service had not acted unlawfully towards the murderers and had not discriminated against them and that they were not entitled to damages.

O'Neill and Lauchlan had been requesting visits to each since at least 2010 on 'family life', which until recently had been rejected by the prison service.

Lord Stewart said the case was not about conjugal visits which are not permitted in British jails.

The judge said: "It is a dangerous thing, I accept, to pass judgement on the value of someone else's family life. Sometimes it has to be done."

"In this case I feel justified in saying that the life Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan have had together when at liberty since 1993, to the extent evidenced to me, is so negative that it cannot be 'family life' as that concept should be understood," he said.

"Their relationship and relations between each other do not engage, do not attract the support of, do not merit the protection of the 'family life' provisions of Article 8 ECHR," said Lord Stewart.

The judge said: "To extend protection for qualified rights like Article 8 ECHR to egregious conduct far beyond European norms _ which is what the court is being asked to do in the present case _ undermines respect for the Convention and the rule of law."

Lord Stewart added that it may be for all he knew that the prison service now had additional information which satisfied it that the pair do have a family life which required to be respected.

He said that as he understood it the prison service was at liberty to arrange inter-prison visits for them if it saw fit for operational, public interest reasons or even charitable or compassionate grounds which did not amount to legal entitlement.

The sex offenders' counsel David Leighton told the court that their position was that they had a long-standing homosexual relationship before their imprisonment and sought face-to-face contact in prison visits.

Mr Leighton said: "They seek to rely on fundamental protections and fundamental rights which then law affords to all persons....They have these rights simply because they are human beings."

It was said in the action: "Their relationship has suffered as a consequence of the treatment they have suffered. They have both felt frustration and distress at being unable to communicate with each other to a greater extent."

The judge who jailed them, Lord Pentland, described them as "highly ruthless and unrepentant individuals with no respect for the law or the values of a civilised society".

Lord Stewart said: "I had hoped that the values-of-a-civilised society criterion might be determinative of the inter-prison visits issue one way or the other. It is disconcerting to find that the phrase 'civilised society' barely features in the lexicon of the European Court of Human Rights."