Journalist Robin Ackroyd has won a seven-year legal battle versus Mersey Care NHS Trust to protect a confidential source.
The Court of Appeal this morning ruled that Ackroyd did not have to give up his source to the trust. He was backed by the NUJ.
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “At last justice has prevailed and Robin Ackroyd – and all journalists – can rest assured that they will not be forced to reveal their sources.
“Robin has showed immense courage in defending this important principle during seven very tough years and thanks to his brave stand media freedom in this country is stronger today.
“It was evident from the start that this was a clear case of public interest. This principle must be safeguarded so that investigative journalists can do their vital job of exposing uncomfortable truths.
“Lessons need to be learnt from this case. The hundreds of thousands of pounds Mersey Care NHS Trust poured into pursuing Robin through the courts would have been far better spent on treating the people within their care. “I hope that the Trust will finally draw a line under this long and painful episode. They must desist from yet another appeal and stop throwing good money after bad.”
Robin Ackroyd gave extracts from Brady’s medical records to the Daily Mirror, which printed them in an article about “the Moors Murderer’s hunger strike” in December 1999.
The House of Lords ordered the Daily Mirror to disclose the source of the leaked medical records. When Robin came forward, the Ashworth secure hospital launched legal proceedings against him to reveal his source.
Ackroyd said: “I would like to express my gratitude to the National Union of Journalists and to my lawyers for their support over the years.
“I said long ago that I didn’t want a legal battle but would fight if Ashworth took me to court. “This matter has wasted a huge amount of my time. Frankly, I’ve had better decades. “However I have repeatedly made very clear my position about the protection of confidential journalistic sources. I have remained resilient throughout.”
For full story and background see Press Gazette magazine this week.