Sir Fred Goodwin

Lord Oakeshott is interested in the bakground to Goodwin\’s super-injunction. You know, the one that says that we\’re definitely not to refer to him as a banker?

Lord Oakeshott’s question asks whether the events covered by the order took place while Sir Fred was chief executive of RBS.

He asks whether they might then be disclosed to the Financial Service Authority, the City watchdog, which is looking into the run-up to the bank needing a bail-out.

\”Sir Fred Goodwin\’s private life is not of public interest,\” it says.

\”But if the super–injunction were to be revealed to cover up a failing of corporate governance at RBS it would be of enormous interest to every taxpayer in Britain, the people who had to pay for the bail-out.”

Well indeed. Who or what Sir Fred might or might not had a legover with is, while of interest to the public not particularly in the public interest.

However, the coprorate governance of the bank is of huge public interest. So the relationship between the CEO and the various risk management officers is something that we would all like to see explored.

5 comments on “Sir Fred Goodwin

  1. I think the error here is the presumption that there is a “right” to privacy. There isn’t. Not in a natural-law-ish kind of a way, anyway. It’s another “positive” right rather than real right.

    You have a right to make a privacy contract with somebody, e.g. a bank. You can sue them for breach of contract.

    But nobody has, or can have, a right to not be known about. I might prefer that nobody should know that when I was 20 I [deleted for matters of privacy] and do my best to prevent anybody knowing, but if they find out, that’s just life.

    If you’ve done things other will disapprove of, you don’t have a right to secrecy over them. If you know people will disapprove of you e.g. having an affair with a lap dancer called Trixxie, either take the risk and potential consequences or don’t do it. You can’t have it both ways.

  2. Ian, I’m not sure that’s true. Positive rights are actually responsibilities of others – to provide housing, to provide education, and so on. Negative rights require others to refrain from impeding a person: free speech requires others to refrain from impeding the speaker, the right to life requires others to refrain from killing.

    Privacy is more a question of refraining from an action than of having a responsibility to provide someone with something. But it does of course conflict with free expression. Conflicts like that aren’t unusual, though. The burkha question, for example, is a conflict between the rights of people to wear what they want (a veil) and the rights of people to wear what they want (not a veil, in communities where coercion is a problem).

  3. Surely giving some a right to privacy is only done by preventing others from speaking freely…

    Regarding the Burkha ban – I don’t see how the conflict mentioned by PR above justifies it. If I bully my wife and force her to wear a dress (as it could be argued society as a whole did to women until recently) should we ban the wearing of dresses?

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