The Supreme Court has ruled that an 86-year-old retired professor will not have to give evidence to the Laffoy Commission inquiry into Child Abuse.

Professor Patrick Meenan had appealed a High Court order requiring him to comply with the Laffoy Commission direction to attend its public hearings to give evidence.

Prof Meenan would have had to give evidence of his involvement in the conduct of vaccination trials on children in institutions run by religious orders in the 1960s.

He was involved in one vaccination trial in 1960-61 which involved 58 infants and compared single vaccine and quadruple vaccine in the treatment of polio.

In recent years questions were raised about the ethical propriety of these trials because the children were resident in mother and baby homes and children's homes.

The Laffoy Commission received additional functions in 2001 to inquire into three vaccine trials.

Professor Meenan provided a written statement to the Commission but his lawyers indicated medical experts advised against him giving evidence in public.

After lengthy correspondence the Commission directed his appearance - his lawyers indicted that on age and health grounds he did not intend complying.

The High Court then ordered his appearance but today that decision was reverse by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court said fair procedures were not employed by the Commission in its dealings with Professor Meenan.

Mr Justice Hardiman said Professor Meenan's legal team had tried to arrive at a mutually satisfactory arrangement but was stymied in doing so by the inconsistency and non-disclosure on the part of the Commission.