These statements have just been dealt a dramatic blow by a large-scale qualitative and quantitative study commissioned by the Medical Research Council from Mori. Their key conclusion (p.9):
Results indicate that a majority of the general public feels that consent should always be sought. When given a variety of scenarios in which consent might not be essential, no more than a third of the public agrees with them. In Ipsos MORI’s experience, this is quite low. Indeed just over one in five (21%) does not find any of the scenarios acceptable. The public is most likely to say consent is not important when the information is ‘not generally regarded as being sensitive’ (35%). This is closely followed by when consent has already been given for use in a previous project (29%). These are two situations that also came out in the qualitative work as times when some (but not all) participants feel that consent is not always essential.