The Wall Street Journal received a court order on Thursday which prohibits it from releasing the names of people U.K. prosecutors may implicate in a fraud case related to the manipulation of Libor rates. Unfortunately, however, the damage had already been done. The newspaper published the story online where it was picked up by numerous media outlets, including ValueWalk. Also, the story was already in the newspaper’s U.S. and Asian printed editions for today.
The WSJ served by U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office for Libor rigging case
According to Cassell Bryan-Low of The Wall Street Journal, a judge ordered the newspaper and also David Enrich, who is its European banking editor, to remove the story in question. It released the names of individuals who have not officially been named by prosecutors in the Libor rigging case. According to Thursday’s story, those people’s names could come up in court Monday when prosecutors appear for a hearing in the case.
The court order applies to the newspaper’s England and Wales publications and also the online version of the story. It threatened Enrich and “any third party” with a fine, asset seizure and imprisonment. The Journal received the order from the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office via email at 7:18 p.m. London time on Thursday after the story had already been published in numerous places. The newspaper has since removed the story from its website.
WSJ publisher speaks out against the injunction
Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Journal, called the court order “a serious affront to press freedom.” The publisher said they would fight the injunction. In the U.K., it is fairly common for the courts to place restrictions on what the media can report. Those restrictions are typically aimed at preventing details from coming out which could place a case in jeopardy.
Celebrities are even allowed to receive court orders to keep embarrassing reports about their personal lives out of the newspapers. Sometimes those orders are granted in anonymity so that the media is unable to reveal who obtained them. In the U.S., however, such court orders are very rare and would only be considered in exceptional circumstances.