LONDON (Reuters) - A story by Reuters about Brevan Howard Asset Management would breach the British hedge fund manager’s right to confidentiality and is not of sufficient public interest to justify it being published, a British court has ruled.
Brevan Howard was granted an injunction last week to stop Reuters publishing a story that it said was based on confidential and “highly sensitive” information that had been sent out to 36 potential investors.
The full judgment released on Tuesday found that while the story might have undermined Brevan Howard’s reputation, it lacked “weightier public interest” such as exposing hypocrisy or incompetence.
“Publication would not be for the purposes of demonstrating any behavior which is even arguably behavior deserving of moral censure,” judge Andrew Popplewell said in a redacted copy of his ruling.
The judge said there was a public interest to protect sensitive commercial material that is given to potential investors.
“If a financial institution could not provide such information with adequate protection of its confidentiality, it would be forced to be less candid with investors who would be less well informed in making their investments,” he wrote.
Reuters argued that hedge fund managers, such as Brevan Howard, invested on behalf of institutional investors including public pension funds, which affect the finances of millions of people globally.
A Reuters spokeswoman said: “Our objective is to publish news and information which is in the public interest, which we believe outweighs the confidentiality concerns put forward in this matter.
“We are therefore deeply disappointed by this ruling and are reviewing the court’s decision”.
A spokesman for Brevan Howard, one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund managers, said that the firm “welcomes the decision of the court that supports the importance of its ability to communicate with its investors in a candid and responsible manner”.
Reuters news agency is part of the Thomson Reuters media and information group.
Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Pravin Char