The former colleagues are suing the chef at an employment tribunal. One, a female accountant who can only be identified as Ms J, is claiming unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination. She is also making a claim under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which protects so-called “whistleblowers”.
The other is a former chief executive of the company and is suing the chef for unfair dismissal, age discrimination and non-payment of wages.
No reason was given in the hearing as to why the order had been granted. The order will add to the debate about the way celebrities and high-profile names appear to be creating a privacy law through the back door.
Louise Bagshawe, a Conservative MP, said: “This case embodies the concerns many MPs have about super-injunctions. In an employment case, it seems that there is a clear element of public interest in knowing the names and the relationship of the people involved.”
The order, which requires the chef to be identified only as “L” and his business as “K Ltd”, was obtained at a preliminary hearing before the London Central Employment Tribunal.
Judge Elizabeth Potter placed reporting restrictions on naming Ms J, the chef and the name of his company.
Martin Griffiths, for Ms J, said: “The employment tribunal must be heard and the press must be allowed to be in here. I’m not objecting to the press being in here. It is our application that both the respondent and the claimant be anonymous until the substantive matter of the case is decided.”
The order is expected to be challenged by at least two national newspapers and legal argument will be heard at a later date. Tom Lyndon, the chef’s lawyer, told the hearing that he was afraid that disclosing the former employees’ evidence to newspapers’ legal departments could see the secret evidence shared with journalists “by accident”.
However, the disclosure of evidence for the purposes of obtaining a gagging order is standard practice and is not reason alone to be granted anonymity.
Miss Bagshawe, whose joke about one gagging order case was censored on the BBC show Have I Got News for You last month, added: “Super-injunctions are apparently no longer just about covering up peccadilloes and frailties but are preventing scrutiny of more important issues such as work-related discrimination.”
A string of celebrities have recently won the right to suppress information following controversial rulings by judges.
Last month a High Court judge issued an unprecedented gagging order in an attempt to prevent details of a television star’s private life being published, even on the internet. The latest hearing was adjourned until July.
Article from The Telegraph