Mirror steps up its legal fight over Brady source

Brady: held at Ashworth since 1985


The Mirror has launched new legal moves in its test case battle over confidential documents relating to Moors Murderer Ian Brady.

The paper is now seeking to take the case to the House of Lords in the wake of an Appeal Court ruling last December which upheld a judge’s order that the newspaper disclose to the authorities at Ashworth Hospital, where Brady has been an inmate since 1985, the source from which it had obtained reports on him.

After a private hearing, Lords Steyn, Millett and Scott have put an application by MGN Ltd to appeal against the earlier decisions on hold to give the Ashworth authorities an opportunity to object.

An 18 April deadline has been set for Ashworth to lodge any objections it wishes to make to the moves.

The Appeal Court, headed by Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips, ruled last December that the High Court had been right to order the paper to reveal its sources.

In his Appeal Court judgment, which had wide-ranging implications for the media, Lord Phillips said: "The disclosure of confidential medical records to the press is misconduct which is not merely of concern to the individual establishment in which it occurs. It is an attack on an area of confidentiality which should be safeguarded in any democratic society.

"The protection of patient information is of vital concern to the National Health Service and, I suspect, to health services throughout Europe. This is an exceptional case.

"If the order made by the High Court discourages press sources from disclosing similar information in the future, this will be no bad thing. I would dismiss the appeal."

The order against the Mirror, granted in April 2000 by Mr Justice Rougier, centred on an article in the paper which had contained extracts of Brady’s hospital records. It flagged them as "exclusive".

Although police were brought in, in a bid to trace the culprit and an internal inquiry has been held at Ashworth, the source of the leak has not been traced.

Ashworth claimed that although the information that appeared in the article was important, it considered it far more important to trace the source of the leaked documents.

By Roger Pearson

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