Lord claims ex-RBS chief covering up relationship

LONDON- Lord Ben Stoneham, using the legal shield of parliamentary privilege, suggested that Sir Fred Goodwin obtained a so-called super injunction to ban reporting of the alleged relationship. Stoneham’s statement allowed news media to report what he said without fear of violating the court order.

“Every taxpayer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, so how can it be right for a super injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague?” Stoneham said. “If true, it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would be allowed to know about it.” Stoneham’s intervention came a day before a senior judge, Lord David Neuberger, is due to publish a report by a committee of experts on the use of such injunctions.

Goodwin headed RBS when it racked up record losses, and resigned in 2008 when the government rescued the bank in the nation’s biggest financial bailout. Taxpayers now hold an 83 percent stake in RBS. Before the collapse, Goodwin was knighted for services to banking. In March, legislator John Hemming used parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons to reveal that Goodwin had obtained a so-called super injunction — which even bars reporting the existence of the injunction — but disclosed no details.

“In a secret hearing, Fred Goodwin has obtained a super-injunction preventing him from being identified as a banker,” Hemming said. “Will the government hold a debate, or make a statement, on freedom of speech, and whether there is one law for the rich, such as Fred Goodwin, and another for the poor?” The use of similar injunctions has been exposed in several high-profile cases, including one in which the oil-trading company Trafigura obtained a court order prohibiting The Guardian newspaper from reporting allegations about the company’s role in dumping toxic waste in West Africa.

That injunction came to light after another member of Parliament asked a question about the case. Several other cases are believed to involve the sexual escapades of celebrities. broken links test Goodwin left RBS with a pension of 703,000 pounds ($1.1 million) per year after leading the bank on an expansion spree culminating in the disastrous takeover of the Dutch bank ABN Amro. Write-offs on that deal helped swell RBS’ losses for 2008 to 24.3 billion pounds, a U.K. record.

Goodwin later negotiated an agreement to take a lump sum payment of 2.8 million pounds and scale back his pension payments to 342,500 pounds per year.