BBC News: UK universities face ‘gagging order’ criticism
“UK universities are being accused of using “gagging orders” to stop bullying, discrimination and sexual misconduct allegations becoming public.
Dozens of academics have told BBC News they were “harassed” out of their jobs and made to sign non-disclosure agreements after making complaints.
Figures obtained by the BBC show UK universities spent about £87m on pay-offs with NDAs since 2017.
Universities UK says using NDAs to keep victims quiet should not be tolerated.
Non-disclosure agreements were designed to stop staff sharing trade secrets if they changed jobs, but now lawyers say they are being misused to protect serial perpetrators of misconduct, and ministers say they want to tighten the rules”. (Courtesy BBC).
Link to full report here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47936662
With the advent of a series of Case Management Masterclasses by Intersol in support of UUKs objectives to implement the 2016 Pinsent Masons guidance on investigations into misconduct that might amount to criminality, it is timely to emphasise that NDAs have no place in the concealing of criminality. We echo the stance of UUK that:
“Universities use non-disclosure agreements for many purposes, including the protection of commercially sensitive information related to university research. However, we also expect senior leaders to make it clear that the use of confidentiality clauses to prevent victims from speaking out will not be tolerated. All staff and students are entitled to a safe experience at university and all universities have a duty to ensure this outcome.
“UUK will be publishing comprehensive guidance for universities on sexual misconduct in the autumn and this will cover the use of confidentiality clauses. This guidance will be the result of detailed work by an advisory group brought together by UUK, involving stakeholders such as the 1752 group and the NUS. We are also engaged with the current government consultation on confidentiality clauses.
“It’s important to note that a confidentiality clause will usually be one part of a wider settlement agreement that has been negotiated between two parties and, crucially, the signing of an agreement containing such a clause does not prevent staff or students from reporting criminal acts to the police or regulatory bodies, or from making a disclosure under The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.”
It is our experience across sectors that the use of a NDA, often linked to a (without prejudice) pay-off usually exacerbates problems, leads to repeat offending and the creation of more ‘victims’, doing nothing preventative but storing up problems and cost for the future.
As I write news breaks that:
NHS to be banned from using NDAs to gag whistleblowers
If you have an appetite for excellent investigation that enables Extraordinary Case management (ECM®) please contact for a free and private consultation.