Samples were taken legally, says the British Nuclear Group
An inquiry into the removal of body tissue from Sellafield nuclear workers has been hit by concerns about the medical records of dead patients.
Michael Redfern QC is heading a public inquiry into why samples were taken between 1962 and 1992 and whether next of kin were informed.
But doctors have raised doubts over whether records of dead patients can be handed over to the inquiry.
A High Court judge has now been asked to authorise disclosure of the records.
The inquiry began in April 2007 after the GMB union said tissue samples were taken from up to 70 former Sellafield employees.
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.
Now a test case has been brought by a doctor who is custodian of thousands of occupational health records of nuclear workers.
Dr Nicholas Lewis wants 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 was told by barrister Jeremy Roussak for the Department of Health, that there was a strong public interest case for the records to be disclosed.
The judge reserved his decision until a later date.