Court rejects TSSA injunction request over sexual harassment allegations – SKWAWKBOXOn 11 May 2022 Lane J dismissed an application for an interim injunction against Reel News, a London based activist video collective using film to help bring about social change, and journalist Shaun Dey, requiring them  to take down a video in which a former employee, Claire Laycock, made serious allegations of sexual harassment at the Transport and Salaried Staffs Association (“TSSA”)

Ms Laycock, was an organiser employed by the TSSA for several years.  She had made an employment tribunal claim making allegations of sexual harassment of staff and others by the General Secretary of the TSSA.  The claim  was settled in November 2021 and was the subject of a non-disclosure agreement.   Ms Layvcock subsequently recorded a video for Reel News journalist Shau Dey giving details of her allegations. e The video was uploaded to the Reel News website on Saturday 7 May 2022.

The following evening, the TSSA applied to Fordham J for an immediate injunction requiring Mr Dey to remove the video and to prevent publication of any further information which it claimed were in breach of the non-disclosure agreement.  In a judgment handed down on 9 May 2020 ([2022] EWHC 1074 (QB)) Fordham J granted an order restraining further actions by Ms Laycock but refused to order the video to be removed by Reel News or Mr Dey.   He said

“this is not a case in which the wider Order sought is justified or appropriate as an urgent mandatory order requiring immediate action from the First and Second Defendants and impacting on other third parties. It is, in my judgment, appropriate for me – in considering urgent interim relief tonight – to look at the position ‘in the round’. The video was uploaded at 18:15 on Saturday 7 May 2022. The Court was being moved for an injunction nearly 24 hours later” [23]

The return date was Tuesday 10 May 2022 before Lane J.  He refused the application for the mandatory order against Mr Dey and Reel News and ordered the TSSA to pay their costs.  The Judge held that  the TSSA had not shown they would be more likely than not to establish at trial that the publication should be prohibited. The content of Mr Dey’s video was firmly established in the public domain and had been widely viewed on Reel News and its social media platforms.  The judgment on this application has not been published but there is a short news piece on the website of Taylor Hampton, who acted for Mr Dey.

Following the court’s judgment, the TSSA issued a press release stating that it would meet with the TUC to establish an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. Further it agreed to re-evaluate its use of non-disclosure agreements with employees.  It stated that in future it hoped to achieve full transparency and would not be seeking further injunctions or similar legal action.

The injunction against Ms Laycock was continued to 25 May 2022 but the action against her was subsequently discontinued.  She has recorded a video in support of the new #meTU campaign by women and non-binary people committed to ending sexism, sexual harassment and violence, and bullying in the trade union and labour movement.