Saturday, 18 May 2013

Endemic gagging: Over 300 UK police silenced with taxpayer millions – report

Mere months after it emerged some 14.7 million pounds (US$22.4 million) was spent on gagging UK Health Service employees, a report has exposed 13 police forces across the country signed over 300 compromise agreements with staff, spending millions.

 The gagging clauses are being widely used across UK police forces, leading to concerns they are being used to ensure the silence of police employees. This would prevent them from speaking out over issues of public interest, according to a Freedom of Information survey, reported in the Telegraph.

The 13 forces which responded to the requests for information were only the ones which agreed to provide details, meaning the actual number enforcing the confidentiality agreements is likely to be significantly higher.

The Freedom of Information requests showed that some 200 officials and civil servants put their name to compromise agreements over the course of two years, costing some 14 million pounds. Additionally, 4,500 local authority workers entered similar arrangements.

In the case of the NHS, potential whistleblowers have been gagged, threatened and stopped from raising concerns pertaining to patient safety.

Barclay told the Daily Mail earlier this year that NHS gagging clauses were having “having a chilling effect on whistleblowers,” saying that “hundreds of potential whistleblowers may have been prevented from speaking out for fear of legal action.”

The former chief of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, Gary Walker, revealed in February that he received a 500,000-pound ‘super gag’ in 2010. The money was offered in exchange for keeping silent regarding his belief that his hospital was a threat to patient safety.

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