'Unprofessional' Charge in Gagging Clauses Row; Formal Complaint against Barrister

Article excerpt

Byline: BY DAVID BARTLETT Daily Post Staff

A BARRISTER who demanded information from the Liverpool Women's Hospital about the use of "gagging clauses" on doctors has been made the subject of a professional complaint.

Andrew Bousfield, who grew up on the Wirral, has been reported to the Bar Standards Council essentially for allegedly using behaviour unbecoming of a barrister.

The complaint has been made by the hospital's solicitor, Martin Edwards, of Liverpool firm Mace and Jones, a renowned employment expert in the city who also writes crime novels.

It is understood the complaint was made with permission from the hospital.

Last night, a spokesman for the Trust said it could not comment on the complaint, but defended the use of "gagging clauses" saying they are used widely in the NHS.

A spokesman for Mr Edwards said: "For reasons of confidentiality, this is not something the firm can comment on."

Mr Bousfield, a media barrister, has campaigned for the release of information from the hospital - specifically whether it was using so-called "gagging clauses" on doctors who had left its employment.

In January, the Daily Post reported how the Trust had the second worst bullying rate, from manager or team leaders, in the country in the past 12 months.

Data from the Health Care Commission, showed that 14% of staff at the trust which runs Liverpool's Women's experienced bullying or harassment from managers or team leaders.

Actors were brought in to the hospital to help staff recognise bullying behaviour.

The latest figures show that figure fell to 7% in the 2007 staff survey.

The Health Care Commission also found in its latest report that staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from staff in the previous 12 months had fallen from 25% to 20%, however, this was not deemed to be a significant change.

Mr Bousfield had discovered the original bullying rate from the hospital using the Freedom of Information Act.

He also requested information under the Act about "gagging clauses" used when doctors were paid-off or had taken early retirement. …