By Zoe Smith
Investigative journalist Robin Ackroyd’s battle to protect his sources for a story about Moors murderer Ian Brady enters its seventh year next week when the case moves to the High Court.
Mersey Care NHS Trust is still trying to establish the sources of a 1999 Daily Mirror news story that included details of the medical condition of the Moors murderer.
The five-day case is expected to hear Ackroyd’s argument that his sources were acting in the public interest.
Ackroyd has always maintained there is a long history of secrecy and non-disclosure to the press and the Government by Ashworth Hospital.
Brady has previously written to Ackroyd’s lawyers saying he was willing to give evidence on his behalf, and it is still possible – although unlikely – that he may be called. He wrote again last week asserting that Ashworth uses “patient confidentiality” to avoid media scrutiny.
The legal action was brought against Mirror Group Newspapers by Ashford Security Hospital, where Brady was being held, in 2000. Although MGN fought the action all the way to the House of Lords, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling that the Daily Mirror should reveal its source.
In 2002 Ackroyd came forward as the Mirror’s source but refused to disclose his own sources at Ashworth. In 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled that there should be a full hearing of the case.
In his appearance in the case, due to start on 18 January, Ackroyd is expected to reveal new evidence detailing how he was handed the medical records of another inmate at a high-security hospital.
He says he managed to convince the inmate to end a week-long hunger strike and during his negotiations was given the patient’s records by the hospital’s management.
Ackroyd is also expected to deny ever paying for the information he received from his sources.
Ackroyd is now re-establishing himself as a travel writer and is currently working on a book about Mongolia.