A UK judge ruled that Sir Fred Goodwin, the former head of Royal Bank of Scotland, could not use a privacy injunction to keep his affair “with a colleague” private. But, the injunction will still protect the identity of the woman alleged in the affair, The Guardian reported.
Goodwin obtained a super-injunction in March after the UK Sun wanted to report on the alleged affair, The Guardian reported. Injunctions, as iMediaEthics has previously reported, make it so the media cannot report on an issue. It’s a form of prior restraint. In some cases, the media can’t even report that the injunction exists.
According to The Guardian, Goodwin’s March “witness statement” explained he thought that if the affair was reported, his career and personal life would see a “serious negative impact.” He also stated that he anticipated an invasion of privacy and speculation.
But, a UK Parliament member, Lord Stoneham, outed Goodwin as holding an injunction during a May Parliamentary session. Since Goodwin’s identification was made in Parliament, Lord Stoneham can’t be prosecuted for violating the injunction due to a legal loophole protecting free speech in Parliament called parliamentary privilege.
Justice Tugendhat also criticized Lord Stoneham for identifying Goodwin and “frustrating” the court order in his June ruling on the superinjunction, reported The Guardian.
After Goodwin was named in Parliament, his injunction was “altered” to allow the media to report that Goodwin had an alleged affair, The Guardian reported. Goodwin has since admitted that he did have the affair, The Telegraph reported.
The Guardian reported June 9 that Justice Tugendhat ruled Goodwin’s affair can’t be kept private through an injunction because the “nature of his job meant there was a public interest in his relationships.”
However, while the judge ruled that Goodwin can’t keep the affair out of the news, the judge did decide that the “details” of the affair aren’t in the public interest and likely didn’t have “any effects on the financial difficulties” Goodwin’s Royal Bank of Scotland faced, The Guardian reported.
But, because the woman with whom he reportedly had the affair has an expectation of privacy, the judge has ruled that she cannot be identified by the media. However, the judge ruled that the woman’s job description could be reported, according to The Guardian. The woman is being identified as “VBN,” The Telegraph reported.
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The judge also concluded that the Sun never proved its March 2011 allegation that “the woman in question had played a part in determining his severance package when he left the bank.” According to The Guardian, both Goodwin and the woman claim she wasn’t involved in “determining his severance package.” The Sun reportedly has also stated it was “wrong” to suggest Goodwin promoted the woman “at the time of their affair.”
According to the Telegraph, Goodwin “left the bank with a £342,500-a-year pension after its £45 billion taxpayer-funded rescue.”
Because Goodwin’s role as head of Royal Bank of Scotland, he had a “public figure” role, which warranted interest in his private life, unlike Ryan Giggs’ whose private life is only of relevance if it interferes with his public life, The Guardian explained.
Giggs also obtained an injunction against the Sun recently to prevent the newspaper from reporting an alleged affair with former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.
As StinkyJournalism has reported, Giggs’ injunction was also revealed in Parliament by an MP using Parliamentary privilege. Read StinkyJournalism’s reports on the injunctions related to Ryan Giggs and Imogen Thomas here.
As The Guardian noted, this is Giggs’ second legal battle with a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper recently. His May injunction to prevent the press from reporting on his alleged affair with Imogen Thomas was against the Sun. Both The Sun and News of the World are owned by Murdoch’s News Corp.