Murdoch’s Sun Can’t Identify Ex-RBS CEO Goodwin’s Mistress

Former Royal Bank of Scotland Group CEO Fred Goodwin
Former Royal Bank of Scotland Group Chief Executive Officer Fred Goodwin. Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper can’t identify a woman who had an affair with former Royal Bank of Scotland Group Chief Executive Officer Fred Goodwin, a judge ruled.

Justice Michael Tugendhat at the High Court in London today refused to allow the paper to name the woman, but modified a court order to allow more details about her job description to be published.

RBS posted the largest loss in U.K. corporate history in 2008 and required a 45 billion-pound ($74 billion) bailout following its acquisition of ABN Amro Holding NV. Goodwin was cleared of responsibility in December in a report by the Financial Services Authority on RBS’s rescue.

The rescue of RBS “may well explain why News Group consider that articles about Sir Fred Goodwin will be of interest to the public to whom they wish to sell The Sun,” Tugendhat said in the ruling. “But what is of interest to the public is not the same as what it is in the public interest to publish.”

The Sun’s lawyer, Richard Spearman, said at a June 1 hearing that an anonymity order was stifling public debate about corporate governance at the bank prior to its 2008 bailout. Hugh Tomlinson, the lawyer representing the woman, said at the same hearing that there was no need to change the order because there isn’t any evidence the affair contributed to the collapse of RBS.

Following today’s ruling, Tomlinson said he planned to challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal. Tugendhat said the Sun shouldn’t publish the woman’s job description for 14 days to allow time for the appeal to be filed.

Privacy Injunctions

The court order in the case is one of dozens of so-called super injunctions or privacy injunctions that ban newspapers from printing stories about people’s sex lives. While lawmakers have taken to the floor of the House of Commons to skirt the rulings, users of Twitter Inc.’s social-networking website have posted names of celebrities protected by the injunctions.

“The purpose of this order is not to keep a secret but to prevent intrusion and distress,” Tugendhat said today.

Goodwin’s injunction was initially disclosed in March by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament.

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