Page last updated at 07:19 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 08:19 UK

Body parts records to be released

The Redfern inquiry involves six dead workers from Aldermaston

An inquiry into the removal of body tissue from dead nuclear workers can examine the patients' medical records, a judge has ruled.

It affects six workers who died at Aldermaston Automatic Weapons base in Berkshire between 1962 and 1992.

Michael Redfern QC is heading a public inquiry into why the samples were taken and whether next of kin were informed.

Doctors had raised doubts over whether disclosing records to the inquiry would mean breaching patient confidentiality.

A High Court judge has ruled the disclosure was in the public interest.

The inquiry began in April 2007 after the GMB union said tissue samples were taken from up to 80 former employees at Sellafield, Aldermaston, Harwell and Dounreay.

Autopsy samples taken included tissue, bones and body parts removed without permission, the GMB claimed.

British Nuclear Group said tissue was taken for "legally correct" purposes.

Strict secrecy

A test case was brought by a doctor who is custodian of thousands of occupational health records of nuclear workers.

Dr Nicholas Lewis asked the High Court to clarify whether any disclosures to the inquiry and others, including British Nuclear Group, would be a breach of confidentiality obligations.

Mr Justice Foskett said on Thursday he had "not the slightest doubt" the records should be disclosed.

He said disclosing the records "outweighed" patient confidentiality rights and that families of former nuclear workers were "entitled to fuller answers" as to what was done with the bodies of their loved ones.

However, the judge said the disclosures would be subject to "proper safeguards" and records would only be viewed under terms of strict secrecy.

Concerns over body parts records
12 Sep 08 |  Cumbria

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