We have got ‘a legal system that is only protecting the rich’, says activist

We have got ‘a legal system that is only protecting the rich’, says activist

Women's rights demonstrators hold placards and chant slogans during the Time's Up rally in London. Image: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Activist Kate Smurthwaite has said that the use of injunctions “is only protecting the rich and powerful”, after a company boss was granted an injunction amid allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse. 

The businessman won a legal battle against The Daily Telegraph for an interim injunction so that allegations could not be reported, and his identity remains hidden.

Ms Smurthwaite told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes: “These people have got lots of money that is why they can afford to get an injunction.

“We have got a legal structure that is only ever used by the super rich and super wealthy and super powerful.

“Ordinary people like me can’t get an injunction on anything, not that I need one."

She added: “As soon as you have got a legal structure that is only protecting the rich and powerful, then that is a problem because it is not fair justice.  

“Everyone should have access to the same things.

“Of course it is absolutely possible in cases that somebody has made an accusation and it is not fair.”


'They can pay to keep it quiet' 

A businessman is facing sexual harassment and racial abuse allegations, but was granted an injunction by The Court of Appeal meaning the story could not be reported, nor his identity revealed.

Allegations against the executive were reportedly made by five employees, who are believed to have signed non-discosure agreements as part of a settlement deal, which included "substantial payouts", according to a High Court ruling.

Labour MP Jess Phillips has threatened to use Parliamentary privilege to name the leading businessman. 

Ms Phillips chairs the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party and posted on Twitter that she was "done" with "rich men using our laws to hide you away".

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, she said: "It seems our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet. 

"Does the Prime Minister support the Court of Appeal's decision to back non-disclosure agreements, which have been used to silence women who have been sexually harassed and others who have been racially abused?"


'You should never feel you can't say things'

Ms Smurthwaite added that the #metoo movement was meant to allow women to share what “what they have experienced in their lives”.

She said: “It is really frightening, the whole point of the #metoo movement was that women were going to describe the things that they have experienced in their lives.

“The idea is now that we are going to turn round and say to women and go ‘can you please not discuss that?’"

She added: “You should never feel like you can’t say things about your own life.

“You should never feel like if you have been a victim of a crime, if you have been a victim of harassment - even if you have ordered a sandwich and you didn’t like it, you should always feel that you have the right to say ‘I was unhappy about this’.

“It is then later for the courts to decide whether a crime has taken place – sometimes a bad sandwich is a bad sandwich.”