Whirlpool has used at least 24 gagging orders on customers to ‘cover up’ tumble dryer fires, a Commons committee heard yesterday.
The true figure could be far higher, as the firm said ‘it is not possible to identify’ how many non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) it has used after at least 750 fires in its machines in 15 years.
MPs on the business committee forced Whirlpool to disclose the known number of confidentiality clauses signed by customers in return for compensation after the Daily Mail exposed the scandal earlier this year.
Responding to the MPs’ concerns, business minister Kelly Tolhurst told the hearing: ‘I agree with you [that]any kind of NDA shouldn’t be used to cover up product safety or consumer risk.’
Whirlpool this week began replacing up to 800,000 dryers with a potentially lethal design fault, which were sold under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands. Blazes can start when fluff from clothes touches the heating element.
The company claimed it had never taken legal action to enforce the NDAs or prevent public discussion of alleged defects in its products.