A NURSE escaped a misconduct charge because of the death of a key witness.
Paul Clerkin's career was on the line after he leaked medical records to a family solicitor.
But he told the Nursing Midwifery Council's professional conduct committee he had the patient's permission to pass on the information.
The 45-year-old did not attend a the London meeting, where no evidence was offered regarding the January, 2003, allegation.
The charge related to the nurse's behaviour at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
The NMC heard that Mr Clerkin, of Ryhill, Wakefield, is in Australia but denies he `inappropriately' disclosed confidential information.
David Glendinning, for the NMC, said: "Essentially the claim is that Mr Clerkin disclosed case notes and medical information about the patient without consent.
"The difficulty is the patient has died, and having been notified by the nurse at such a late stage, it is impossible to rebut his assertion he had consent," said Mr Glendinning.
Mr Glendinning offered no evidence because if Mr Clerkin could establish the reasonable possibility that he had patient consent it was unlikely the committee would find him guilty.
The nurse, who at the time worked for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, could have faced being struck off if found guilty of misconduct.
He denied he disclosed the patient's records without consent to a solicitor acting for the family of a second patient.
Mr Glendinning said the matter came to light when the solicitor received the file, but sent the papers straight back to the trust unopened.
"It was as a result of the solicitor's actions that the matter came to light," he said.
"I cannot say whether there might have been any detrimental effect or not. The solicitor could not tell me because that would be a breach of confidence of her client, the other patient's family.
"I would have to accept there was no intention to harm the patient, whose notes were disclosed. They were disclosed for another reason."
Committee chairman Mr William Buxton said: "No evidence has been offered and accordingly, we find the facts are not proved and find Mr Clerkin not guilty of misconduct."