Robin Ackroyd wins protection of sources legal battle

Freelance journalist Robin Ackroyd appears to have won one of the
longest running legal battles over sources in UK journalism history.

Ackroyd
has been informed by his lawyers that Mersey Care NHS Trust appears to
have halted its seven and a half year legal battle to get him to
disclose the source of a story about Moors murderer Ian Brady.

In
February, the Court of Appeal ruled in Ackroyd's favour saying that he
did not have to reveal the identity of his confidential Brady source.

Press
Gazette understands that the time period for Merseycare to appeal the
verdict to the House of Lords has now elapsed – meaning that Ackroyd is
now finally off the hook.

Ackroyd, who is now living abroad, was
not available for comment. But he is understood to be planning to
celebrate his victory by buying a horse.

Ackroyd's legal battle
began in 1999 when he used a confidential source for a Daily Mirror
story about the medical treatment of Brady.

The Daily Mirror was
taken all the way to the House of Lords by the NHS and eventually lost
at the House of Lords in 2002, revealing Ackroyd as its source.

Mersey Care NHS Trust then began pursuing Ackroyd himself. His legal costs were met by the NUJ.

In
February last year, Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled in Ackroyd's favour at
the High Court, saying he was "a responsible journalist whose purpose
was to act in the public interest". That decision was appealed by
Mersey Care to the Court of Appeal.

Ackroyd had feared that
Mersey Care would pursue him all the way to the European Court –
meaning his legal ordeal would stretch on for years.

He has
previously said that fighting the case has effectively wrecked his
journalistic career. He is now understood to be working as a travel
writer.

A Press Gazette Freedom of Information request last year
revealed that the NHS had spent more than £150,000 pursuing Ackroyd up
to that point.

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