Thursday, 14 February 2013

GAGGING

Non-disclosure orders

A crook deal

This is how it works. Rightly or wrongly your employers want rid of you. The deal is that you get a comfortable financial pay-off in return for a signed agreement that you never, ever speak about the inner business and external relations of the organisation that is getting rid of you. You take the money, and run. If you ever welsh on the deal, expect to hear from your former employers' lawyers, a with a writ demanding that you repay the lot (whether you can afford it now, or not).

Early days yet

The practice stinks to high heaven, but it happens: just one of those many rotten little foibles in our society that go frequently unremarked. It has surfaced now in the UK because of a high-profile topic (death, neglect and cruelty on a large scale in our vaunted National Health Service). This attention is so recent that questioning has yet to spread to other Holy Cow sectors of our society, the voluntary (charitable) sector for example.

Nor has the matter yet been sufficiently chewed over and analysed to begin examining the very legality of such disemployment practice – not just now and in the future but retrospectively too. I am sure that there will be a right legislative and judicial mare's nest should this come to pass, and the lawyers would have a field day, but the would certainly fit well with society's current lust for digging up, exposing and revenging the wrongs of the past.

Bodies lie buried

And if the law were to change? One interesting field in which some very unsavoury bodies lie buried is the history of Conductive Education in the United Kingdom. I recall how part of this story was marked by some surprising departures from office, accompanied by some reportedly generous financial settlements on condition of the departed one's never speaking again.

A public-interest change in the law could potentially open some fascinating sepulchres, and perhaps explain a lot.  

2 comments:

  1. Was this really five years ago?

    http://www.conductive-world.info/2008/07/school-at-risk.html

    How time flies...

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  2. The story is of of course wider than the NHS, Here it shows some possibility to spreading to the public sector in general, and perhaps even from the specific, reportable examples of 'whistle-blowing' to the wider, fundamental matter of bureaucratic repression that these manifest:

    'Britain’s Parliament is relatively weak, its government extraordinarily centralised and secretive, its local councils relatively powerless.
    'What makes up for all that is the strength of our democratic culture, embodied in civic organisations, pressure groups, academia – and above all, a strong, feisty press. The strength of the press depends, in part, on whistle-blowers. The strength of the press is now, as never before, under attack.'

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9874695/The-state-versus-the-whistleblower.html

    I would not, however, put much faith in the oppositional power of academe (or 'academic freedom'), any more than in 'the professions', since the phenomenon of institutional repression seems as successful there as anywhere.

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