A Labour MP has signalled she would name the anonymous businessman at the centre of sexual harassment allegations if she knew his identity.
The Telegraph revealed on Tuesday that its eight-month investigation into claims that a leading UK businessman had bullied, intimidated and harassed his staff had been blocked by an injunction, barring the newspaper from naming him.
But Jess Phillips suggested on Twitter that she could use the ancient right of parliamentary privilege – which allows MPs to speak freely in Parliament without being sued for libel – to reveal the identity of the accused.
The Birmingham Yardley MP wrote: “If any of the victims in this case would like to speak to me, please do get in touch. I’m done with these rich men using our laws to hide you away.”
However, in an echo of the now-infamous Harvey Weinstein case, it emerged that the unnamed businessman had also used non-disclosure agreements (NDA) to “silence and pay off” his alleged victims.
Phillips – who is set to ask a question at Prime Minister’s Questions – said in a further tweet on Wednesday morning: “All those telling me to name him, I don’t know who he is and the system stops those silenced telling me.”
Someone who had signed an NDA agreeing not to name the businessman could be sued if they then went on to identify him.
While parliamentary privilege was initially intended to stop the monarch interfering in the workings of Parliament, it has been used in recent years to get around court rulings.
In a well-known incident In 2011, Lib Dem MP John Henning used the right to name footballer Ryan Giggs, who had used a so-called “super injunction” over an alleged affair with reality TV star Imogen Thomas.
In its article on Wednesday, the Telegraph wrote: “On Tuesday this newspaper was prevented from revealing details of the non-disclosure deals by Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, the second most senior judge in England and Wales.
“His intervention makes it illegal to reveal the businessman’s identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.”