Gagging order shredded in a blow for Fred

A SUPER-INJUNCTION taken out by former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin was partially lifted by the high court after a peer told the House of Lords of its details yesterday.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Stoneham – whose comments can be reported as they were covered by parliamentary privilege – questioned why events leading up to the collapse of RBS, including “the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague” should not be shared with taxpayers.

Sir Fred took out the gagging order, which prevented him being identified as a banker, to stop the media reporting the alleged “sexual relationship”.

News Group Newspapers went to court following the Lords discussion to try to get the injunction lifted.

Sir Fred had by then told the court he did not oppose the move to name him, and high court judge Justice Tugendhat amended the order to allow publication of Goodwin’s name but not details of the alleged relationship or the name of the woman.

“The main point is that this is an injunction relating to a sexual relationship,” Tugendhat said. “The existing order of Mrs Justice Sharp prohibits the naming of the other person to the relationship and prohibits the publication of any details. That remains in force.”

Lord Stoneham, asking a question on behalf of fellow peer Lord Oakeshott, told the Lords that hiding the alleged affair would be “a serious breach of corporate governance”.

“Would [the speaker] accept that every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland?” Stoneham asked. “So how can it be right for a super-injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague? If true it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would know about it.”

Lords deputy leader Lord McNally replied: “I do not think that it is appropriate from this dispatch box to comment on individual cases, some of which are before the courts.”

Sir Fred earned the nickname “Fred the Shred” for his ruthless cost-cutting at RBS.