Ackroyd: fight to protect sources
Mersey Care NHS Trust has failed in the latest round of its legal battle with investigative journalist Robin Ackroyd, over protection of his sources.
Ackroyd has been embroiled in a long-running legal fight with the trust, which is seeking to force him to reveal the sources from which he obtained confidential medical reports on Moors murderer Ian Brady.
Last October, the High Court ordered him to reveal to the trust who gave him the documents, which he later made available to the Daily Mirror. This would have effectively nipped in the bud an action brought against Ackroyd by the trust, granting the trust “summary judgment” without a full hearing of the case on the basis that Ackroyd had no defence to the claim.
However, in May this year he won a milestone victory when London’s Court of Appeal overturned that decision, paving the way for the case, which has already run up a £120,000 legal costs bill, to go back to court and be fully fought if the trust persists in its efforts to force Ackroyd to reveal his sources. This would, nevertheless, give Ackroyd an opportunity to argue against being made to say who gave him the documents.
In the wake of Ackroyd’s May win, the trust went to the House of Lords in a bid to reinstate the earlier ruling that it is entitled to be told by him from whom the documents were obtained without the need for a full hearing.
But the three Law Lords this week sided with the Court of Appeal in its decision. Lords Nicholls, Hobhouse and Millett, in a decision on Monday, dismissed the trust’s application for permission to appeal against the Appeal Court’s May ruling.
Their decision came after they put the matter on hold in August this year to give Ackroyd an opportunity to object to the latest moves by the trust.
A spokesman for Mersey Care NHS Trust said: “The action continues against Robin Ackroyd, which may lead to a trial.”
By Roger Pearson