I’ve been following the News International story with great interest. What surprised me today is the news that people think it’s wrong that James Murdoch paid off Gordon Taylor (£700,000 according to some estimates) and included a gagging order in the agreement to stop the truth from coming out. Of course, Murdoch did this long before the details of the case were in the public domain, so he was spending big in order to try and avoid exactly what’s happening at this very moment.
There seems to be outrgage that someone would do such a thing… well, I’ve got news for you – Glaxo has been doing for years and still does..
Here’s an old post from 2007:
Buying our silence
Buying our silence – that’s what it’s all about when Glaxo opens its cheque book to ‘settle’ litigation. It has nothing to do with putting right a wrong or making sure that patients are not harmed in the future – Glaxo is simply protecting its own interests – while never admitting it did anything wrong.
Glaxo always denies it was in the wrong. “We believe we acted appropriately,” said Glaxo spokesman Mary Ann Rhyne in one case the company settled. “We deny liability. We have taken this action to avoid protracted litigation and the costs associated with that. We haven’t admitted any liability.”
In another case, GlaxoSmithKline once again admitted no wrongdoing as part of another settlement. “We’ve agreed to this settlement to avoid the delay, expense and uncertainty of litigation,” said Mary Anne Rhyne, a company spokeswoman. However, though Glaxo doled out $65 million in this case, it refused to admit guilt. Paragraph 22 of the final Order in that case, dated April 22, 2005 states:
“Neither this Final Order and Judgment, the Settlement Agreement, nor any of its terms or the negotiations or papers related thereto shall constitute evidence or an admission by Defendant, that any acts of wrongdoing have been committed, and they shall not be deemed to create any inference that there is any liability therefore.”
The US government has hit the jackpot with Glaxo. On September 12, 2006, the Huffington Post reported that Glaxo had agreed to pay more than $3 billion to settle charges by the IRS that the company under-reported profits to avoid paying US taxes.
However, here too, in true Glaxo form, the company denied any guilt and said it only paid the $3 billion to settle the case to avoid protracted litigation. That’s $3 billion… but we never did anything wrong!
You can read more about these cases here.
Maybe you see a pattern here – HUGE payouts, but only to avoid protracted litigation.
The other common thread in Glaxo’s settlements is the gagging of individuals. The agreements people sign – under subtle but nevertheless very real duress – try to ensure silence.
Typically you will not be free to carry on making public comments about Seroxat or addiction to it. Perhaps you might be forced to take down your website or stop blogging on the subject… perhaps you will not be allowed to talk about withdrawal from the drug in public… basically you’re paid to go away and shut up.
Importantly, you’re NOT paid anything for all the suffering and harm you have experienced – you’re simply paid to go away and shut up. These agreements are all about protecting companies like Glaxo – rather than trying to help injured patients. And then to rub salt into the wound Glaxo asks the court to seal any incriminating documents – it doesn’t work every time though.
What I can’t see is why Glaxo, if they really have nothing to hide, can’t settle with people but NOT gag them – why should a payout from Glaxo be dependent upon our silence… what kind of warped quid pro quo are we talking about here.
This leaves just one question: Alastair Benbow takes money from Glaxo – why can’t he be made to shut up?!