Judge rules on bank trial anonymity

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A High Court judge has said public confidence in the administration of justice could have been damaged if Barclays Bank staff involved in the manipulation of a lending rate had been granted anonymity during legal proceedings.

Mr Justice Flaux said granting bankers the protection of anonymity during High Court hearings would have been an “affront to the principle of open justice”.

He added that the public had a “legitimate interest” in learning who in the banking community was alleged to have been implicated in the manipulation of the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (Libor).

Scores of current and former Barclays’ employees asked for their identities to be kept secret during pre-trial hearings of a High Court case centred on the alleged rigging of Libor by Barclays staff.

The judge dismissed their application this week after editors at three national newspapers and a news agency raised objections.

He gave his detailed reasons for refusing to allow the bankers to remain anonymous in a written ruling published yesterday.

Mr Justice Flaux said more than 100 people had asked to remain anonymous, but added that not all of those were thought to have been involved in any impropriety.

He said more than 20 were on a “shortlist” of people believed to have been referred to in “notices in respect of Libor”.

The emails of others had been provided to regulators investigating alleged Libor manipulation.

More than a dozen firms are airing grievances against Barclays in litigation which Mr Justice Flaux described as a “test case”.

Executives at firms running care homes sued after claiming that Barclays sold financial products without warning that the inter-bank lending rate on which they were based was likely to have been “undermined” by manipulation.

Barclays, which was fined for “misconduct and wrongdoing” in relation to manipulation of Libor, disputes the companies’ allegations. The judge said a trial is due later this year.