Protect Chief Executive Francesca West has responded to the Panorama programme on anti-Semitism in the Labour party and the use of NDAs to gag whistleblowers, which aired this week.
The programme featured eight whistleblowers who spoke of feeling undermined by senior Labour bosses in their efforts to speak up and tackle anti-semitism. They claim there was consistent interference in complaints they were trying to deal with.
Four of the whistleblowers, including former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol, who left his post last year, have broken non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to come forward.
Former disputes officer, Louise Withers Green, signed off with depression and anxiety, signed an NDA in return for not having to work her notice. She told the BBC she broke the NDA because she would not “be able to live with myself unless I speak up about the horrendous things that I know have been happening”.
Protect’s Chief Executive Francesca West said, “In March last year the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) issued a warning to all law firms in the overuse of NDAs. They also warned against the use of an NDA to conceal wrongdoing, harassment or misconduct towards others.
“It is hard to see why these NDAs were used against these Labour Party employees who have been appallingly treated for just wanting to do the right thing and correctly do their job. The NDA we have seen does not take account of the rights all workers have under the whistleblowing legislation and is a terrible indictment of the culture in the Party. We know it is an incredibly difficult decision for a person to make public their concerns, and a number of these individuals have clearly flagged the incredible toll this has taken on their own mental health. Such individuals are worthy of our praise and support and we are deeply concerned about the response from the Labour Party.”
Protect have been very vocal on our views that NDAs need to have clearer legislation as we believe they currently prevent whistleblowers from speaking out over gagging fears and threats of legal costs. Protect gave evidence to the Women & Equalities Select Cttee into NDAs as well as the Government’s Consultation into NDAs.