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Court lifts ex-banker Fred Goodwin’s gag order

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An injunction granted to Sir Fred Goodwin has been lifted at the High Court

An injunction granted to Sir Fred Goodwin has been lifted at the High Court

An injunction granted to Sir Fred Goodwin has been lifted at the High Court

A High Court judge yesterday dramatically lifted a gagging order preventing journalists saying married banker Fred Goodwin had a “sexual relationship” after a politician used parliamentary privilege to name the millionaire.

Mr Justice Tugendhat said the media could now name Sir Fred, former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, after the banker's identity was revealed in the House of Lords by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Stoneham. The judge said reporters could reveal that Sir Fred (52), took legal action earlier this year after discovering that a tabloid newspaper planned to publish a story about the affair with a “senior colleague” at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The lifting of the ban came as the Government said it planned to instruct courts to give priority to the right to freedom of expression when hearing privacy cases.

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, yesterday met the Justice Minister Ken Clarke to discuss how courts should be instructed to give precedence to freedom of expression over privacy after the granting of a wave of super-injunctions. Mr Hunt said there was no requirement for a privacy law, but that changes to existing legislation could be introduced.

Today, a committee led by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, will deliver a much-anticipated report on the use of super-injunctions after a long review of the process. It will be released at the High Court tomorrow in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.

Lord Stoneham, acting on behalf of his fellow Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott, stood up in the Lords and outed Sir Fred as having taken out a gagging order.

“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?” Lord Stoneham asked.

“So how can it be right for a 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.”

It also emerged the Ministry of Justice did not know how many super-injunctions were active.

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