Robert Barrington, director of Transparency International UK, said: “Our research shows that the anti-corruption controls in local government have been steadily eroded, and the ability of staff to speak out about suspicions or malpractice is now one of the crucial remaining defences against corruption."

“If staff are silenced by gagging orders, it increases the risk that we will wake up in five or ten years to find that corruption has taken root in local government, and at that point it will be much harder to eradicate.”

Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier suggested the agreements could be used to prevent whistle blowing

“If an employee is being told they can't talk about something and bought off, that's not an acceptable use of these settlement agreements.”

 

This is more concerning given that Sunderland Council has frequently used such gagging orders or "confidentiality agreements" in many employment contracts to the sum of £56m of taxpayers money (the highest for any council in the North East).  What are they so keen to silence?