WATCH: Shami Chakrabarti brands gagging clauses imposed on charities by DWP 'unacceptable'
Shami Chakrabarti has slammed contraversial gagging clauses, allegedly forced on charities delivering Universal Credit and other Government welfare programmes.
The Shadow Attorney General said she did not think the clauses included in contracts with charities and other organisations helping deliver programmes for the Department of Work and Pensions would be enforceable in UK courts.
It was revealed earlier this week that at least 22 groups working with the DWP had signed contracts that forced them to “pay the utmost regard to the standing and reputation” of the Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey.
But speaking to Ridge on Sunday, Baroness Chakrabati said the obligation was “completely unacceptable”.
She said: “As Shadow Attorney and with a Human Rights and Free Speech background, you can imagine that I was pretty shocked to learn that contracts between the DWP, that's Esther McVey's department, and charities, include clauses that preclude the charities from critcising the Secretary of State, the department or Universal Credit.”
“That is completely unacceptable and I think quite possibly unenforcable in our courts.”
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood has called on Ms McVey to urgently clarify that the clauses would not be enforced for current contractors and that her department would drop them for any future agreements.
But a government spokesperson defended the contracts, saying the inclusion of the clauses was standard practice: “As with all arrangements like this, they include a reference which enables both parties to understand how to interact with each other and protect their best interests.”