Coulson, the former Director of Information for the Conservative Party and Govt. Press Supremo, and currently under arrest, has been spreading it like manure again. It seems he left News International under a ‘Compromise Agreement‘ and continued to receive payments from his previous employer while serving as a senior employee of the Conservative Party. It has been suggested that these payments are a de-facto and thus undeclared donation to the Conservative Party. If true, this would be against the law.
The electoral funding laws are supervised by the Electoral Commission who in a story run by the Guardian seem to believe,
there was no evidence that the payments related to his political activity with the Conservative party in any way.
This may formally be true, if somewhat incredible, given News International’s immense expense on lobbying government, however there are two further questions. Mind you, while a bit of a diversion, it reminds me of Alan Hansen’s comment about the offside law and the ‘not interfering with play’ caveat.
“What’s he doing on the field if he’s not interfering with play?”
Coulson was working full time for the Tory Party while receiving significant payments from a media organisation that had significant commercial interest in the manifestoes and result of the 2010 General Eelection. If these payments weren’t a subsidy to the Tory party, what was he doing?
On the other hand it has to be said, that these payments were made on the basis of work he had done for News International. It is equivalent to redundancy payments. Not everyone in this county will be familiar with compromise agreements, since they are an agreement by an employee to waive any financial rights in the circumstances of the termination of employment. Of course, not everyone in this country will be familiar with redundancy rights as many small employers will bully people into inferior dismissal terms if they are so inclined and think they can get away with it. Compromise Agreements are rarely agreed during a resignation; the employer would need some quid pro quo as it’s very rare that a resigning employee has any further claim on his ex-employer. The most common trade is a silence clause, either about business practice, which one would expect to be covered by the contract of employment, or the terms of the employment or termination contract. The latter is often because the employer doesn’t want the cost and publicity of an unfair dismissal case. N.B. You can’t sue for unfair dismissal if you resign.
So Question No 1, what were the rights Coulson gave up in the compromise agreement?
And Question 2, what were the confidentiality clauses agreed?
The staging of the payments, if that’s what happened, also seems odd. Why were they staged? Were they conditional?
The Civil Service, and most employer organisations that look to use the employment contracts to protect trade secrets and their own commercial and organisational integrity state that one needs permission to work for another employer. To these organisations, its important to understand that employees have only one employer. Did and do the Tories place this duty on their employees? If not, why not?
Voters and Tory party members need to begin to ask, who’s paying for the Tory Manifesto?