Sun editor criticises injunctions


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The Independent Online

The editor of The Sun today criticised the use of privacy injunctions to protect people's reputations, even when stories were in the public interest.

Dominic Mohan told MPs and peers that a lot of injunctions had been "based on reputational damage rather than privacy".

Referring to the injunction obtained by disgraced banker Fred Goodwin to prevent reporting of his affair with a senior colleague at Royal Bank of Scotland, Mr Mohan said there had been a "clear public interest" in the story.

Mr Goodwin - who was stripped of his knighthood this week - was eventually named in the Commons, after which the allegations could be reported.

Appearing before Parliament's Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions, Mr Mohan said: "I felt in that case there was a clear public interest in publishing that story.

"He was the head of a large, failing bank, I think sexual behaviour can affect decision-making, it can affect judgment, and the RBS situation cost the taxpayer many, many millions of pounds.

"I think a lot of injunctions have been based on reputational damage rather than privacy."

He said judges had "not got the balance right" on privacy and needed to be "more in favour of freedom of expression".

On newspaper regulation, Mr Mohan insisted that Press Complaints Commission judgments were taken seriously within the industry.

"When an adjudication is made against a newspaper it's a badge of shame, and a number of those made in succession could raise questions about one's editorship," he said.

He suggested that newspapers could be incentivised to sign up to any new non-statutory system of regulation through advertising rates.

"There could be a way where newspapers that weren't kitemarked would be penalised in their advertising rates," he told the committee.

"They wouldn't be able to charge such high advertising rates and I think that could get some traction. If there was some penalty in that way you could see everybody joining up."