Connect with us

Featured

Daily Telegraph blocked from naming businessman who ‘sexually harassed staff’

Published

on

The Court of Appeal has stopped a newspaper from naming a “leading businessman” who is alleged to have sexually harassed and racially abused members of staff.

The Daily Telegraph said the senior executive in a company group had hired at least seven lawyers and spent close to £500,000 in legal fees in his quest to get an injunction against the paper.

Two managers at companies within the group are also said to have taken legal action.

The newspaper, which has spent eight months investigating “allegations of bullying and intimidation”, said the court had ruled that the “confidentiality of contracts was more important than freedom of speech”.

There was clear public interest in publishing the allegations, the paper said, because it would alert anyone thinking of applying to work for the man.

Under the ruling, it is illegal to reveal the businessman’s identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.

Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Supreme Court in Manhattan
Image:
Harvey Weinstein also used non-disclosure agreements

Explaining their decision, three appeal court judges said that while five employees of companies within the group had made allegations of “discreditable conduct” by the executive, their complaints had all been “compromised by settlement agreements”, through which they had received “substantial payments”.

The Daily Telegraph said that “like (Harvey) Weinstein, the British businessman used controversial non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), to silence and pay off his alleged victims with ‘substantial sums'”.

While NDAs have often been used to protect commercial confidentiality, there are concerns they are being used to cover up wrongdoing.

Maria Miller, who chairs the Commons’ women and equality committee, has said NDAs should not be used “where there are accusations of sexual misconduct and wider bullying”.

The ruling from Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Henderson goes against an earlier one from the High Court.

In August, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave decided the executive and managers had not demonstrated that information the newspaper wanted to publish had been obtained in breach of non-disclosure agreements.

He added that the information was “reasonably credible”, there was no “reasonable expectation of privacy or confidentiality” and found that a considerable amount of the information the newspaper wanted to publish was already in the public domain.

He felt the publication was “clearly capable of significantly contributing to a debate in a democratic society” and “making a contribution to a current debate of general public interest on misconduct in the workplace”.

But the appeal court judges said there was “no evidence that any of the settlement agreements were procured by bullying, harassment or undue pressure by the claimants”, adding that Mr Justice Haddon-Cave had “left entirely out of account” the “important and legitimate role” played by non-disclosure agreements.

Regarding the three claimants, the judges said there was a “real prospect that publication by the Telegraph will cause immediate, substantial and possibly irreversible harm to all of (them)”.

The executive and companies were named only as “ABC & others”.

The Court of Appeal has ordered that the matter “proceed to a speedy trial”, the Daily Telegraph said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending