Fred Goodwin under pressure to lift injunction as MP continues crusade
Thursday 28 April 2011
Sir Fred Goodwin, the former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) boss, and other high-profile men are coming under intense political pressure to follow Andrew Marr and shed the protection of gagging orders.
John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has campaigned against super-injunctions, is meeting the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow to raise two cases where he believes court orders have infringed individuals' rights to free speech.
He is also supplying the Commons Treasury Committee with details of the super-injunction obtained by Sir Fred Goodwin, so that they can judge whether any of the information it covers is relevant to Sir Fred's stewardship of RBS, which needed an injection of £20bn by the Government to rescue it from collapse. Mr Hemming previously used parliamentary privilege to reveal the existence of that injunction.
Lord Oakeshott, a former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, has also used parliamentary privilege to put down a question on whether the injunction relates to anything that happened while Sir Fred was running RBS. Sir Fred quit as RBS chief executive in October 2008, with an annual pension of £703,000, later reduced to £342,500. The bank is now 70 per cent state-owned.
Mr Hemming also plans to raise the case of a television star, referred to in court only as "AMM", who has obtained a temporary injunction preventing his ex-wife writing about their relationship and claims that they had resumed a sexual affair after he remarried.
The injunction was granted in September, pending a trial. But Mr Hemming said: "There is a tendency for people to issue injunctions on the basis of a claim that they intend to issue proceedings. One such case is AMM, in which no proceedings have been issued." Commons rules forbid MPs from using parliamentary privilege to discuss cases that are sub judice (the subject of an impending court case). But Mr Hemming will suggest that since the star known as "AMM" has not taken the case to court the rules does not stop him talking about it.
He wants the case – and another involving Vicky Haigh, a horse trainer who received a court summons after speaking at a public meeting in Parliament, and who Mr Hemming used parliamentary privilege to name – to be referred to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.
Mr Hemming also plans to produce a report on the origin of the current rash of super-injunctions, which are usually attributed to Britain's decision to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
But the Human Rights Act was passed in 1998, while Mr Hemming says that the sudden rise in super-injunctions began six or seven years later. He said yesterday he is being joined in his office by a barrister who will help him to identify how it began.
Their findings will be published as a report, separate from the report on the super-injunctions in force, which Mr Hemming is putting together to present to the Commons Justice Committee.
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