X v Y: 1987

Complaint was made that defendant newspapers were to publish confidential medical records of doctors suffering Aids. An injunction was sought to prevent use of records given to a journalist by a hospital employee. The records related to doctors in general practice. The newspaper said it intended to do so in a way which would not allow identification of the doctors.
Held: The injunction was granted. The fact of the confidence in the records meant that the claimant did not have to establish any further prospective damage. Detriment had been established immediately the records were handed over, since this would discourage other patients approaching AIDS clinics. One of the doctors had already been harassed by the newspaper. Once the information had been acquired in breach of contract, it was for the defendants to show good reason for its publication. They had not discharged that burden. Allowing the paper to pick and choose what it published would make a mockery of the section, and the story published during the continuation of the proceedings and clearly been in contempt of court. The court emphasised the importance of confidentiality for medical health records.
Rose J said: ‘In the long run, preservation of confidentiality is the only way of securing public health; otherwise doctors will be discredited as a source of education, for future individual patients will not come forward if doctors are going to squeal on them. Consequently, confidentiality is vital to secure public as well as private health, for unless those infected come forward they cannot be counselled and self-treatment does not provide the best care’
Rose J
[1988] 2 All ER 648, (1987) 13 IPR 202
Contempt of Court Act 1981 10
England and Wales
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 . .
CitedMersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd CA 21-Feb-2007
The defendant journalist had published confidential material obtained from the claimant’s secure hospital at Ashworth. The hospital now appealed against the refusal of an order for him to to disclose his source.
Held: The appeal failed. Given . .
CitedW 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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 28 July 2021; Ref: scu.238532