UK

NDAs: Millionaire given secrecy order over sex assault claims

Silhouette of a man and a woman at work Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The multi-millionaire was accused of assaulting and harassing two women employees

A senior British establishment figure was given anonymity after accusations of sexual harassment and assault in an employment case, it has been reported.

The Times reported that one woman said she was groped at his country house and another that she was sexually assaulted in his private office.

The women signed "gagging orders" in return for large payouts.

It means the man, who denies the claims, cannot be named and his identity was concealed in court papers.

The Times said it had been fighting for a year to be allowed to name the multi-millionaire businessman, who is described by the paper as having extensive connections in British politics and society.

It says it has published the story - with the businessman's name replaced by black bars in the print edition - to highlight the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to silence alleged victims of sexual misconduct.

The government has previously said it will bring in legal measures to ensure that NDAs do not prevent people from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination.

And MPs on the Commons' Women and Equalities Committee have called for a ban on the use of NDAs, saying they are used to "cover up unlawful and criminal behaviour".

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said while many organisations used NDAs legitimately, "the misuse of these agreements to intimidate and silence victims" was "completely unacceptable".

"We are currently consulting on the best way to tighten the laws around NDAs, ensuring workers are clear on their rights and making it clear in law that victims cannot be prevented from speaking to the police or reporting a crime regardless of any NDA," he said.

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