HC Deb 21 July 1953 vol 518 cc29-30W
111. Mr. M. Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for War why the contents of a psychiatric report on Private Irene Rosser were publicly disclosed at the court-martial of Lieut.-Colonel Gleave; at what date this report had been made; and whether such disclosures are in conformity with normal practice.

Mr. Head

I understand that some parts of a psychiatric report dated 6th May, 1953, on Private Irene Rosser were disclosed at this court-martial, after argument as to their admissibility. This is not in conformity with the usual practice and I am looking into the matter further.

112. Mr. M. Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for War to what persons, and for what purposes, the contents of Army medical or psychiatric reports may be disclosed.

Mr. Head

The general practice of the War Office is not to disclose the contents of Army medical records, including psychiatric reports; they are regarded as a confidential class of document for which privilege is claimed as a class. The Department will, however, exceptionally waive the claim to privilege, if necessary, in the over-riding interests of justice, in serious criminal cases and is prepared, in such cases, to make the records available both to the prosecution and the defence.

Medical records of ex-Service personnel may also be disclosed, with their agreement in each case, to doctors to assist in treatment.

Certain parts of a military psychiatrist's special report on the accused, but not other medical records, may be made available in confidence to the prosecution and defence at a military court-martial, to assist them in the conduct of their cases; and portions relating to character may be produced to the court in mitigation of sentence if the accused is convicted.