Details of a super injunction protecting Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, were exposed by a member of the House of Lords today, revealing that Goodwin had an affair with a senior colleague.
Liberal Democrat Lord Stoneham breached the terms of Goodwin’s super injunction, arguing that taxpayers have a direct public interest in the events leading up to the near-collapse of RBS, which received a £20bn taxpayer bailout.
“Every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, so how can it be right for a super injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague?” Stoneham said.
“If true, it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would be allowed to know about it.”
The media is prevented from disclosing when a super injunction has been granted but Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming used parliamentary privilege in March to reveal that Sir Fred had taken out a gagging order.
Today is the first time the details of Goodwin’s injunction have been revealed.
Fred Goodwin came under intense criticism after the financial crisis which triggered Britain’s recession. Despite the Royal Bank of Scotland being bailed out by the taxpayer, in 2008 Goodwin quit as RBS chief executive with an annual pension of £703,000, later reduced to £342,500.
According to the bank’s code of conduct, employees must inform management about any relationships which pose a potential conflict of interest.
Lord Oakeshott said that the revelations of Goodwin’s super injunction were therefore in the public interest.
“I’m not interested in footballers’ sex lives, but Royal Bank of Scotland was the biggest collapse in corporate history,” he said.
“It cost taxpayers billions and thousands of people their businesses and their jobs. You could not conceive of something more in the public interest to know the full facts leading to that collapse.” David Cameron said last month he was “a little uneasy”.
Details of Goodwin’s super injunction were revealed ahead of Friday’s report on injunctions from the Master of the Rolls.
Ministers are unhappy with how the courts are using gagging orders.