Ex-staff of SNP MSP Ash Denham handed thousands of pounds in exit payments

Some of Ash Denham's ex-staff signed gagging clauses
Some of Ash Denham's ex-staff signed gagging clauses
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Former staff of Scottish 
Government minister Ash Denham have been given thousands of pounds in exit payments, it has been reported.

A number of ex-employees of Ms Denham, the minister for community safety, received pay-offs and some signed gagging clauses.

The details, revealed in The Herald on Sunday, have led to calls for more transparency on settlement agreements made from the public purse.

Ms Denham, the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Eastern, is said to have recently settled a dispute with one former employee who complained she had breached confidentiality by passing on personal details.

The former member of staff resigned and started official proceedings after finding an email detailing their personal health problems had allegedly been sent to another SNP MSP.

In 2016 and 2017, the National Union of Journalists represented other employees of Ms Denham who had complained about their treatment.

One staff member is said to have been given a £6,000 compensation payment as part of a settlement agreement, which included a non-disclosure clause, after complaining they had been discriminated against on the grounds of disability.

In another case, an employee was given more than £2,000 as a “goodwill payment” when they quit their post.

The person cited bullying and victimisation from within the MSP’s office – not by the MSP.

An SNP spokesman said: “We do not comment on employment matters.

“MSPs, in common with all employers, are able to let 
staff go in line with HR advice, guidance and legal requirements where their employment is no longer required.” The Scottish Parliament last year removed the non-disclosure clause from its standard settlement agreement.

However, that does not rule out the use of gagging orders if both parties agree to it.

The settlement agreements used by Ms Denham for two of the cases contained non-disclosure clauses.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Settlement agreements are a legitimate means of facilitating the ending of an employment relationship on mutually agreed terms and do not affect former employees’ right to make a protected disclosure such as whistleblowing.”

But Labour peer Lord Foulkes told The Herald on Sunday: “This is certainly not transparent. I have a number of concerns about NDAs [non-disclosure agreements] and the way they are used to gag people. I am surprised they would be used by an elected member.”