Decision on Ackroyd sources fight in the balance

Freelance journalist Robin Ackroyd's seven-year legal fight to protect a source's identity is now expected to be resolved in a matter of weeks.

NHS Mersey Care Trust was given 28 days to appeal to the House of Lords against a Court of Appeal ruling in February which found in favour of Ackroyd – but according to Ackroyd's lawyers the trust missed Thursday's deadline, therefore ending the case.

But an official in the House of Lords Judicial Office said today they could not confirm or deny whether the trust had filed an appeal. He said that because Parliament is in recess some applications and petitions will be considered after the Easter break – meaning that late applications could be considered.

The House of Lords could consider an application "out of time" if it is so minded. A final decision from them is expected in a matter of weeks.

Whether the Lords accept the application or not, Ackroyd's lawyers are hopeful that they will reject it.

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 in February this year.


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