Council and ex-clerk gagged over settlement

SUTTON Bridge Parish Council says it is unable to reveal how much it paid in a settlement to former clerk Karen Treacher and will “mask” the sum in its accounts.

Parish council chairman Coun Christopher Brandon-King claims the council and the former clerk are under a “gagging order” that prevents both parties from giving details of the settlement.

There were numerous questions from residents speaking at the council’s open forum on Thursday and one man asked: “I would like to know when the settlement figure – whatever it was – is going to appear in the parish council accounts?”

Coun Brandon-King replied: “Unfortunately, the terms of that agreement are that the details remain confidential. The complainant and the council are both bound by the gagging order which was agreed between the two parties.”

In answer to further questions about the payment “disappearing” in the accounts, the chairman said: “We are advised by the external auditors that we might mask it in some way.”

Coun Chris Brewis said: “Whilst some of us don’t like it, it’s the law.”

Ms Treacher told the Lincolnshire Free Press it was an employment tribunal “COT3 agreement”, which allows parties to settle claims without the need to go to court, and was settled last November.

Both parties were bound by confidentiality.

She said: “I can’t tell you how much.”

Ms Treacher left the employment of Sutton Bridge Parish Council in October 2010.