The longest-running battle since the introduction of Freedom of Information legislation is being taken all the way to the House of Lords, as the NHS in Scotland continues to resist releasing local statistics on childhood leukaemia.

The decision by the Common Services Agency of the NHS in the wake of defeat in the Court of Session to continue spending public money to fight the issue all the way to the Lords has outraged Green MSPs, who first asked for the local breakdown of figures in Dumfries and Galloway in 2004.

The Greens wanted the breakdown of childhood leukaemia incidence down to council ward level in order to compare this with anecdotal claims about clusters around Chapelcross nuclear power station.

The MSPs' researcher, Michael Collie, lodged the first appeal under the new FoI legislation within days of it coming into force in January 2005. The Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, accepted his case and in August 2005 ordered the agency to release the statistics. Two months later CSA appealed this ruling to the Court of Session. Judges backed Mr Dunion.

Robin Harper said: "It is unacceptable that the CSA should continue to drag out this process and waste taxpayers' money trying to prevent a matter of public interest being placed in the public domain.

"I would urge Scottish Executive ministers to intervene on their civil servants to abide by the court ruling and release this information."