Notorious financier gets a "super-injunction" prohibiting the press from revealing that he is a banker

Fred "the shred" Goodwin, who presided over the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland and is now collecting a £200,000/year pension at taxpayer's expense (over and above his £3m bonus) for his work in helping to destroy one of Britain's great financial institutions, has secured a "super-injunction" prohibiting the press from discussing his affairs. The injunction also prohibits the press from disclosing that it exists (hence "super-injunction") and from mentioning any facts about Goodwin's life, up to and including the fact that he is a banker.

The super-injunction came to light when a LibDeb Member of Parliament (who is covered by Parliamentary privilege which exempts him from the injunction) asked a question in the Commons about it. The Telegraph lists more rich, powerful people and corporations who've gotten these gag-orders, including a philandering "sportsman" and a TV personality. The hearings at which courts award these super-injunctions are sealed, so the press can't report what evidence is presented in favor of the official censorship.

He said: "In a secret hearing Fred Goodwin has obtained a super-injunction preventing him being identified as a banker.

"Will the government have a debate or a statement on freedom of speech and whether there's one rule for the rich like Fred Goodwin and one rule for the poor?"

Leader of the House Sir George Young said a forthcoming Westminster Hall debate would explore freedom of speech, adding: "I will raise with the appropriate minister the issue he has just raised."

The terms of the injunction are so strict that the Daily Telegraph cannot reveal the nature of the information that Sir Fred Goodwin is attempting to protect.

Sir Fred Goodwin, former RBS chief, obtains super-injunction (via Charlie Stross)


  1. If anything needs to be leaked onto the internet and Tweeted from British rooftops, it’s stuff like this. The faster the pointlessness of gag orders and D notices can be demonstrated to be, the better.

    I was watching the discussion of this on BBC Newsnight last night. Living here in Old Yurp (or maybe New Yurp–NL joined the Coalition of the Willing), it’s easy to laugh at CNN International and take the BBC for granted, until something like this happens.

    Start a contest to see just how much of Fred the Shred’s personal information can be spewed all over the internet. Follow with $PHILANDERING_SPORTSMAN.

  2. Before the Tsunami took over, #Fredgoodwinisabanker was an inevitable trending topic in the UK on Twitter.

  3. The news is out, seems like the “super-injunction” didn’t work. Fred should have opted for the “super-duper-injunction”

  4. and people wonder why I’m not patriotic…
    So if we splash his personal information all over the interwebs will he pay back the taxpayer’s money he was given?

  5. Ooo, Cory, do you think you and Charlie will get to be cellmates?

    If this proceeding is to be taken seriously, you two would have to be punished for breaking the injunction. The MP is OK, due to parliamentary exception. But if I understand correctly, the BBC is now reporting it based on what the MP said? If that’s the case, I suppose his lawyer needs to withdraw it.

    But as for others that have done it, it would be interesting to find out if any media has ever done anything about it. After all, isn’t the court vulnerable to FOI requests?

    Also, how does the media know they’re running afoul of a secret court case, anyway?

  6. Is this like being on “Double-Secret Probation”?
    Or does the press have to refer to “Sir Fred, who in a past life was a B*****”?
    And how did he get to be “Sir Fred”, anyway – was it for being a B*****, or had he done something else notable?

    1. to bad they are drip feeding the US diplomatic cables and still have the Bank of America stuff to reveal.

  7. Correction: the article states that he was making 700,000 pounds a year before taking a 200,000 pound cut to his pay due to public outcry. That would mean he still makes 500,000.

  8. @church: the press knew about it, they just weren’t able to report it until a (Liberal Democrat) MP asked a question in the Commons, where his speech was under Parliamentary privilege (and therefore can be reported without restraint.) Presumably he was tipped off by someone in the press.

    The second thing is that this really wasn’t about him trying to hide the fact that he’s a banker. The real story can be read between the lines of a few tweets from the legendary @bengoldacre:!/bengoldacre/status/45978344809955328!/bengoldacre/status/45978629561262080!/bengoldacre/status/45979384540172288!/bengoldacre/status/45981010264981504

    1. @church: the press knew about it…

      How? Do they get a copy of the injunction beforehand? And what if a random blogger doesn’t?

      Sorry if I’m being dense, but this is confusing to me.

  9. I wonder how close to this kind of scenario the BBC could get without being censored . . .

    Today a public figure has secured an injunction preventing the BBC from revealing news about them or identifying them.

    In other news Sir Fred Goodwin is . . . <1 minute silence/mime/unicorn>.

    or perhaps each news broadcast should include a ten second fact about Sir Fred that we ARE allowed to publish?

    BREAKING NEWS Sir Fred Goodwin has grey hair!

  10. He definitely should have gone with the Double Secret Super-Duper Injunction.

    //snark off

    “£200,000/year pension at taxpayer’s expense”

    I have a bit of a problem with this statement. From Faux News saying about the Wall Street people, “the bonuses were part of their contract and have to be honored”, to what is happening in Wisconsin, “the pensions were negotiated and part of their pay” the statement above seems a bit disingenuous.

    Maybe if you fail at your job, at a private company, corporate company, or government job, it should be written into your contract that you lose part of your pension…

  11. Hello, Fred Goodwin. We are Anonymous.

    Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of super-injunction; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye.

    You cannot hide; we are everywhere.

    We cannot die; we are forever. We’re getting bigger every day–and solely by the force of our ideas, malicious and hostile as they often are. If you want another name for your opponent, then call us Legion, for we are many.

    Yet for all that we are not as monstrous as you are; still our methods are a parallel to your own. Doubtless you will use the Anon’s actions as an example of the persecution you have so long warned your followers would come; this is acceptable. In fact, it is encouraged. We are your SPs.

    Knowledge is free.

    We are Anonymous.

    We are Legion.

    We do not forgive.

    We do not forget.

    Expect us.

Comments are closed.