Fred Goodwin
Fred Goodwin

The high court has partially lifted the gagging order brought by Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, after details of his alleged extra-marital affair were made public in the House of Lords.

Mr Justice Tugendhat relaxed the injunction to allow publication of Goodwin's name, but not details of the alleged relationship or the name of the woman said to be involved.

Tugendhat said media could name Goodwin after Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham used parliamentary privilege to raise the case in the House of Lords.

Stoneham, speaking on behalf of fellow Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott, said during the debate:

"Would [the speaker] accept that 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 injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague? If true it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would know about it."

Goodwin obtained the injunction in March after he discovered that the Sun newspaper was set to expose an alleged affair.

Under the terms of the order, in which he was referred to only as MNB, the media were banned from even identifying him as a "banker".

News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that publishes the Sun, went to the high court on Thursday afternoon seeking to get the injunction lifted.

However, by that point Goodwin had already informed the high court "that he did not wish to persuade the court to continue the anonymity," according to his lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson QC.

Sir Fred, nicknamed Fred "the shred" for his management style, resigned as head of RBS in 2008 after the bank was forced to accept 20 billion pounds in emergency public funding during the financial crisis, leaving the British government as an 83 percent stakeholder in the company.

Today, a committee led by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, will deliver a report on the use of super-injunctions after a long review of the process. It will be released at the High Court tomorrow in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.

However, the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on Thursday ruled out new legislation to deal specifically with the issue of balancing privacy and freedom of speech, saying that a privacy law was "not the way forward". He added: "We're not minded to have a new privacy law but we're not ruling out the need for legislative changes."