The Court of Appeal has upheld the crucial journalistic principle that confidential sources of information must be protected.
The ruling in favour of freelance journalist Robin Ackroyd is the latest setback for Mersey Care NHS Trust in its seven-year battle to discover the source of a 1999 Daily Mirror story about the medical treatment of Moors murderer Ian Brady.
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- September 21, 2020
- September 15, 2020
But despite the ruling, the ordeal for Ackroyd (pictured) may not be over.
Minutes after the Court of Appeal released its judgment on Wednesday morning, Mersey Care NHS Trust announced that it was planning to appeal against the verdict to the House of Lords.
In a statement, it said it was "determined to protect patient confidentiality for every patient within its care".
Ackroyd, who has previously accused the trust of being "vindictive" and of "wrecking" his journalistic career, said: "I would like to express my gratitude to the NUJ 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 [the NHS trust] took me to court. This matter has wasted a huge amount of my time.
"However, I have repeatedly made very clear my position about the protection of confidential journalistic sources. I have remained resilient throughout."
Mersey Care NHS Trust previously took the Daily Mirror all the way to the House of Lords, winning in 2002 when Ackroyd came forward as the journalist behind the story.
Since then, the trust has been pursuing Ackroyd personally through the courts to find out who leaked the Brady records to him.
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".
A Press Gazette FoI request revealed that the NHS had spent more than £150,000 pursuing Ackroyd up to that point.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "The hundreds of thousands of pounds Mersey Care NHS Trust poured into pursuing Robin would have been far better spent treating people."