Ackroyd to fight on despite Brady hospital 'witch-hunt'

Ackroyd: "Medical confidentiality is Ashworth Hospital’s fig leaf"

By Jean Morgan and Roger Pearson

 

Freelance Robin Ackroyd has accused the hospital that houses Moors murderer Ian Brady of engaging in a witch-hunt against him.

Ackroyd has vowed to keep fighting for "as long as it takes" after a High Court judge ordered him to reveal within two days his confidential source for Brady’s medical records.

This week Ackroyd will ask the Appeal Court for leave to appeal against the summary judgment awarded to the Merseyside NHS Trust on behalf of Ashworth Hospital, where Brady is an inmate.

"The case isn’t so much about me as about press freedom and the public’s right to know what goes on in their name," he said. "Ashworth has a miserable reputation and mustn’t be allowed to hide its continuing problems. It mismanaged Ian Brady and this led directly to his hunger strike. The public is paying the price  and has the right to know what went on."

Ackroyd has had messages of support from all over the UK, as well as from Africa and the US.

"All journalists understand the principles which are at stake and, with the backing of the NUJ, for which I am extremely grateful, I will continue this fight as long as it takes," he said.

Journalists need more, not fewer, sources to help expose institutions like Ashworth, he told Press Gazette.

 "The chilling effect of an order to expose sources must not be under-

estimated," he said. "Ashworth has been subjected to public scrutiny over the past decade largely through the work of the media. No one else seems to be fulfilling this vital watchdog role. Medical confidentiality is Ashworth’s fig leaf in this case and it’s engaged in a witch-hunt. I would like to make it absolutely clear that I do not reveal confidential sources of information."

Ackroyd supplied the Daily Mirror with records of Brady’s movements within Ashworth before he went on hunger strike. The court order was made without any full hearing of Ackroyd’s arguments and he said he feels he has been denied a trial.

The NHS trust had argued that Ackroyd’s defence merely repeated defences put forward unsuccessfully by the Mirror in earlier cases – in which the paper had sought to protect its sources –  and was therefore doomed to failure.

Ackroyd had claimed he had an arguable case that the original source was entitled to a public interest defence. But Mr Justice Gray, dismissing that claim, said there was nothing in the reports to warrant the conclusion that their disclosure to the media was in the public interest.

 

By Jean Morgan and Roger Pearson

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