Victory protects sources

FREELANCE Robin Ackroyd has finally achieved a decisive victory in one of the UK's longest legal battles by a journalist to protect sources. The House of Lords ruled in his favour on 27 July, refusing to grant the Mersey Care Hospital Trust leave to appeal a case they have fought against Robin for seven years. The Lords also gave permission for Robin to apply for his costs, which have been covered by the NUJ.

Robin Ackroyd,  between court hearings, in Mongolia
Robin Ackroyd, between court hearings, in Mongolia

A December 1999 Daily Mirror report revealed details of Ashworth Special Hospital's treatment of convicted murderer Ian Brady. This included a "care and responsibility team" (a crew in full riot gear with riot shields) moving him from one ward to another.

Ashworth Hospital demanded that the Mirror reveal where it got the medical records from, resulting eventually in a June 2002 order to disclose the source. Robin then stepped forward to reveal himself as the Mirror's source, declaring, "I do not betray my sources." Mersey Care Hospital Trust then pursued Robin up to the House of Lords. (See www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0602ra.html for more background.)

International Federation of Journalists President Jim Boumelha praised Robin's commitment in standing up to "authorities using a vast amount of public money in a bid to force a courageous journalist to give up his source of information".

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