Andrew Bridgen raises concerns that there is evidence that non-disclosure agreements are being used to avoid criminal prosecution and calls for a debate on the issue.
It has been brought to my attention that the affairs of a business allegedly producing counterfeit antiques have been made the subject of a consent order, now known as a non-disclosure agreement, with large cash settlements being used to enable the perpetrator not only to escape justice but to threaten those who seek to bring these matters to light. Indeed, a journalist who wrote about the matter in a very small antiques journal was financially ruined and narrowly escaped a custodial sentence back in June 2018. Can we therefore please have a debate on the scope and use of non-disclosure agreements where there is evidence that they are being used to escape potential criminal prosecution?
Non-disclosure agreements cannot prevent any disclosure that is required or protected by law; nor can they preclude an individual from asserting their statutory rights under either the Employment Rights Act 1996—including, of most importance, whistleblowing—or the Equality Act 2010. There are often legitimate reasons for parties to seek to enter an NDA, such as preventing commercial information being shared inappropriately or protecting intellectual property, but they should not be used, and may not be used, to conceal criminality.