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MYNERS PLAN BREACHES EURO RIGHTS

AMBER MELVILLE-BROWN<br /><strong>MEDIA COUNSEL, WITHERS LLP</strong><br /><br />TREASURY Minister Lord Myners recently proposed that companies ought to be forced to publicise senior executives&rsquo; salaries. The idea has won much publicity, but could it happen? Perhaps not &ndash; it could be unlawful and even trigger costly privacy battles in the courts. <br /><br />Lord Myners envisages that such disclosures would &ldquo;act as a sheet anchor to counterbalance the insidious influence of the benefit consultants who have enabled the extension of remuneration to a point at which it is unpalatable&rdquo;. <br /><br />But things are not so simple. Our financial affairs are part of our private and family life, respect for which is guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. While some incursions into privacy may be justified under Article 8, including those that protect &ldquo;national security and the economic well-being of the country&rdquo;, they must be &ldquo;necessary in a democratic society&rdquo;. <br /><br />The salaries of our captains of industry are already an exception, with those at the helm of our public limited companies considered to be publicly accountable for their actions and the efficient running of the company, including the proportionate remuneration of staff. But should the spotlight be shone on those farther down the chain of command?<br /><br />Lord Myners suggests that his emergency sheet anchor is necessary to steady the Good Ship Britannia in the seas of recession. However, they might in fact, simply serve as an unnecessary public keelhauling of private individuals in whose personal affairs we have no business.<br />