A FORMER council employee is taking legal action against Cheshire West and Chester Council over a ‘gagging clause’ he signed on leaving the authority.
Paul Cardin, a former lighting design engineer, had previously raised allegations about a senior council manager sparking an external investigation.
When he later left the authority in September 2009 he signed an agreement which included a ‘gagging clause’, waiving his right to approach the council with an FOI or Data Protection (DP) Act request.
The Information Commissioner’s Office says the council can’t stop Mr Cardin making such requests but the Chronicle understands Mr Cardin could be sued for breaching the agreement.
Mr Cardin, from Wallasey, has ‘no comment’ to make about the case featured by The Guardian’s veteran writer Roy Greenslade.
However, the former engineer has set up a campaigning website and London-based Collyer Bristow Solicitors has confirmed it is pursuing the civil claim on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
Mr Cardin writes: “Gagging clauses are dubious passages inserted in compromise agreements used to silence former employees.
“Both Cheshire West and Chester Council and Brent Borough Council have gone one step further.
“They’ve used a clause which prevents former employees from exercising their FOI and DP statutory querying rights.”
He added: “I have secured London-based legal backers who state that the clauses are unlawful.”
Council spokesman Ian Callister said: “The authority has no knowledge of any legal action nor any knowledge of the man’s desire to change any aspect of his agreement with us.”