LORD STONEHAM of Droxford has explained why he spoke out against a press gagging order awarded to a leading banker.
An order granting anonymity to ex-Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin was lifted at the High Court after Lib Dem Lord Ben Stoneham, a former managing director of The News, used parliamentary privilege to reveal details of the banker’s affair with a senior colleague.
The ‘superinjunction’ had not only stopped details of the affair being discussed, but also banned anyone revealing any injunction existed.
Speaking to The News, he explained: ‘It’s not every day you get to do something as exciting as this. I honestly didn’t realise what effect it might have.
‘But it’s important for two reasons.
‘Firstly, because the superinjunction was blocking knowledge of an alleged serious breach of rules at the same time banks were being bailed out by the taxpayer, and secondly because overuse of these orders stops newspapers doing their job, in holding people to account.
‘There should be protection of the innocent, but that shouldn’t extend to allowing matters of public interest to be hidden.
‘I shall probably lie low for a little while after this.’
His statement saw the superinjunction overturned at the High Court, and came as a national judicial committee admitted the special legal measure was granted ‘too often’.
Mr Justice Tugendhat, sitting in London, varied the injunction to allow publication of Sir Fred’s name, but not details of the alleged relationship and the name of the woman said to be involved.