Sir Fred Goodwin colleague appeals decision
Thursday 23 June 2011
Lawyers representing the work colleague with whom former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Sir Fred Goodwin had an affair has filed an appeal against a High Court judge's decision that although the media must not identify her by name they could give her job description.
The papers were filed with the Court of Appeal registry shortly before the 4pm deadline for registering an appeal.
Mr Justice Tugendhat held on June 9 that while the woman - known as VBN - must remain anonymous, the media could disclose her "job description".
Her lawyers argue that as she is the only person holding that job at the Royal Bank of Scotland, formerly headed by Sir Fred, giving the job description will automatically enable people to identify her.
The judge made his decision following an application by News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun and the News of the World, for a variation in a gagging injunction.
Mr Justice Tugendhat said the purpose of the injunction "is not to keep a secret but to prevent intrusion and distress".
He said VBN's evidence was that she was a private person, with a family, and that publishing her name would be a very serious intrusion into her private and family life.
He had also inferred from Sir Fred's evidence that he was content that the court should proceed on the basis that he did have a relationship with VBN, as alleged by The Sun, and had not told any friends or colleagues who would view it with serious disapproval.
Mr Justice Tugendhat said publication of VBN's name would be a significant intrusion into her private and family life, from which she was entitled to be protected.
But, while publication of her job description would lead many people to identify her, and would also be an intrusion into her private and family life, the information was an "important feature" of the story.
Also, as her evidence made clear, her name had already become known to some of her acquaintances, in some cases by reason of publications outside the press and broadcast media.
The additional publication likely to follow from publication of her role was not likely to be so great a further intrusion into her private life as to make it necessary and proportionate to interfere with the News Group Newspapers' right to freedom of expression.
On the public interest issue, the judge said there should be public discussion of the circumstances in which it was proper for a chief executive - or other person holding public office or exercising official functions - to carry on a sexual relationship with an employee in the same organisation.
But he was satisfied that Sir Fred or VBN would be likely to establish that any trial judge should make no finding of any breach of the RBS Group Code of Conduct on Integrity Matters (the RBS Code) - there was no evidence in court of such a breach - assuming that the question was a matter for the court to decide.
He was also satisfied that Sir Fred or VBN would be likely to defeat any case News Group Newspapers might make to the effect that the relationship had an impact on the financial difficulties of RBS.
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