The bank executive & the super-injunction

Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, came under public scrutiny when it emerged that he had allegedly had an affair at a time when the bank was heading for collapse. Maryam Omidi asks whether there was a genuine public interest in details of the alleged affair being revealed.

Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, a British bank bailed out by the taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis, came under intense public scrutiny when it emerged that he had allegedly had an affair with a senior colleague at a time when the bank was heading for collapse. On discovering that a tabloid newspaper was planning to publish an exposé, Goodwin obtained a super-injunction from a court to prevent the media from reporting not just on the alleged affair but on the the gagging order itself.

The super-injunction was partially lifted in May 2011 – the media are still banned from naming the woman – after Lord Stoneham, a Liberal Democrat peer, used his parliamentary privilege to out Goodwin in the House of Lords. The rules on relationships at RBS require staff to alert managers if there is a “conflict of interest”. It is not known if Goodwin disclosed details of the affair to managers.

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Comments (1)

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  1. Did the newspaper editors who ran the story honestly believe Goodwin’s affair had a bearing on his ability to manage a bank – thus making it a matter of public interest? I doubt it. Were these editors 100% certain the story would sell? Absolutely!

    RBS failed so spectacularly largely because it bought a Dutch bank in a deal that sent its exposure to complicated structured debt products through the roof. The FSA’s report into the failure of the bank revealed some jaw-dropping details on management’s understanding (or lack of) of the markets the bank was operating in. Goodwin can be, and should be, taken to task over this (as should the other bankers and executives in senior positions who failed to manage their books).

    But unless Goodwin’s mistress was a mole for ABN Amro, who gently whispered the endless possibilities of a merger into his ear, his extra-marital dalliances are neither here nor there.

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