W v Egdell: CA 1990

The plaintiff was detained in a secure mental hospital, under a hospital order coupled with a restriction order, after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The defendant, a consultant psychiatrist, was engaged on his behalf to prepare a report in connection with an intended application to a mental health review tribunal for his discharge. The defendant’s report presented a disturbing picture and it led to the withdrawal of the application. The defendant was nevertheless so concerned that matters in his report ought to be known to those responsible for the plaintiff’s care and discharge that he sent a copy of it to the medical director at the hospital, with a view to its onward transmission to the Home Office. The plaintiff sued the defendant for breach of his contractual duty of confidence.
Held: The appeal failed. There was no sufficient duty of confidence to prevent the health professional disclosing that he thought the prisoner likely to continue to represent a risk to others: ‘It has never been doubted that the circumstances here were such as to impose on Doctor Egdell a duty of confidence owed to W. He could not lawfully sell the contents of his report to a newspaper, as the judge held . . nor could he without a breach of the law as well as professional etiquette, discuss the case in a learned article or in his memoirs or in gossiping with friends, unless he took appropriate steps to conceal the identity of W.’
Bingham LJ
[1990] 1 Ch 359
England and Wales
Appeal fromW v Egdell 1989
The psychiatrist had been engaged by W’s solicitors to examine him and prepare a report to go to the Tribunal hearing an application for the transfer or conditional discharge of W from a secure unit. His report was damning. W withdrew the . .

Cited by:
CitedMersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd QBD 7-Feb-2006
The trust, operators of Ashworth Secure Hospital sought from the defendant journalist disclosure of the name of their employee who had revealed to the defendant matters about the holding of Ian Brady, the Moors Murderer, and in particular medical . .
CitedIngenious Media Holdings Plc and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Revenue and Customs SC 19-Oct-2016
The tax payer complained that the Permanent Secretary for Tax had, in an off the record briefing disclosed tax details regarding a film investment scheme. Despite the off the record basis, details were published in a newspaper. His claims had been . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 08 February 2021; Ref: scu.238533