Rebekah Brooks: Is She Protected From Giving Evidence To The Select Committee?

Employment Law Expert Comments On Enquiry

19.07.2011

There has been some speculation following Rebekah Brooks’ resignation and later arrest that somehow she will be able to avoid giving at least some evidence at a Parliamentary Select Committee enquiry because;
 
1)      She has a confidentiality clause in her Compromise agreement
2)      To give evidence might incriminate her.
 
Tom Flanagan, Head of Employment at law firm Irwin Mitchell refutes this because:
 
"Confidentiality clauses usually cover two things: one is sometimes the actual existence of the clause and certainly the terms of the compromise agreement itself. The other is just general confidentiality about the nature of the business.  Often that could include the reasons leading up to termination, which would include the phone hacking scandal.”
 
However “They almost always exclude any legal compulsion, so if a court of competent jurisdiction requires you to disclose information, then you must disclose it. The compromise agreement can't override that. A Select Committee enquiry would have this power.”
 
In terms of Rebekah’s arrest, Tom continues:
 
“A Parliamentary Select Committee can order disclosure whatever the impact of it and even if Rebekah hadn’t been arrested, she still would have been risking incriminating herself when giving evidence. So being arrested actually makes little difference to her risk.”
 
He concludes:  “Rebekah Brooks’ ability to avoid giving evidence to the Select Committee on the basis of having a gagging clause in her Compromise Agreement (preventing disclosure of confidential information) and being arrested (creating the apparent additional risk of incrimination) are minimal.  The Select Committee can order her to give evidence - even of what otherwise would be confidential information - and being arrested hasn’t really increased her risk of incrimination because the possibility of being arrested was there, anyway.”