The above links to the judgement of Mr Justice Tugendhat following a hearing on 23 May. Oddly the parties actively participating were neither of those named in the case title above.
Instead the matter called in connection with an application by the woman with whom Sir Fred Goodwin is alleged to have had an affair. In light of an article in the Daily Mail on 20 MAy, which followed a hearing in court on 19 May, the un-named lady sought to have the judge refer the publisher of the article to the Attorney General because publication of the article was” conduct impeding the purpose the court sought to achieve in making the order against the Defendant”.
The judge ultimately refused to refer the case to the Attorney General. This has already been reported as being a decision in favour of the Mail, but seems to ignore what was actually said in court.
The judge commented that the article made a number of factual statements about the lady in question, but the MAil submitted that “The effect of the false information… was that it would tend to make a reader less likely to identify the lady.”
The judge responded by saying that “another effect of the false information is that it would tend to mislead the reader into believing that it would be in the public interest for the identity of the lady to be disclosed.”
An allegation was made that the ;lady had been promoted when Sir Fred had been in charge at RBS, though nothing in support of that accusation had been put forward at court on 19 May.
Tugendhat J commented “If ANL (Associated Newspapers Ltd) had had evidence of a misuse of corporate power by Sir Frederick Goodwin then that might have been a very powerful argument for discharge of the injunction”.
The Daily Mail in question also had an article by our favourite MP, Mr John HEmming, where he stated it was in the public interest for these matters to be raised and that the injunction had prevented the regulatory authorities investigating matters. Perhaps Mr Henning was unaware of the terms of the court’s judgement the previous day when he wrote his article.
However the judge had made it clear in open court, when representatives of ANL were present, that these statements were incorrect.
Having considered all matters, Mr Justice Tugendhat decided not to refer the matter himself. He did make clear that it was open to the Applicant to do so herself. The Attorney General is capable of determining further procedure in such circumstances himself. “If the Attorney-General does decide to consider this matter, the contents of this judgment will be available to him”.
It can’t be said that the newspaper has been at all successful when it appears that it has published information about the party in question which was clearly against what the Judge said in court the day before.
Here seems to be another example of the press seeking to stretch the boundaries of what they are allowed to publish, and without the Applicant here doing something about it, who knows what action, if any, might have been taken.
It is noticeable that certain of the parties who are alleged to have so-called “superinjunctions” (even though they are actually anonymised injunctions) have been featured in newspapers in what appear to be light and almost substance-less pieces. Clearly the papers know who they can’t talk about, and they deliberately try, it seems, to get them in the papers anyway, especially with fulsome references to their spouses or families.
But perhaps it has been always thus.
Will the Applicant here refer the matter to the Attorney General – we can only wait and see.