Zelda Perkins gave evidence to a previous committee hearing Credit:PA When asked yesterday whether there was evidence of other stringent agreements, Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “Most of them just allow you to talk to your spouse, your lawyer and your accountant and that is it. He said that it was felt that the change in the law came about in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein #MeToo scandal as it was felt that NDAs were being abuse. He told the committee: “The value of the NDA is to intimidate women into being silent and that I think was the context, that women were being silenced and repeat harassers were continuing to harass.”The committee will continue hearing evidence in the new year. Women are being forced into signing into signing controversial gagging orders which are so strict they ban them from speaking to their doctor about their experiences, MPs have been told. Employees are left feeling that there is no choice but to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) which “intimidate” them into silence after having “horrible” experiences at the hands of their bosses, the Women and Equalities Committee heard as they opened a fresh inquiry into the use of the agreements. It comes in the wake of the scandal surrounding Sir Philip Green’s use of NDAs to silence staff who accused him of sexual and racial discrimination. The Topshop billionaire still has an injunction out against the Telegraph preventing this newspaper printing allegations made against him by five former staff members.Emma Webster, a solicitor specialising in the field, told the hearing that NDAs were used in almost every case where there had been a payout but as they are so shrouded in secrecy it was impossible to know how many existed. The committee originally heard evidence on the use of NDAs last year when Zelda Perkins, who had been forced to sign one by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, told them that her agreement precluded her from speaking to her therapist or the police. “We would never advise anybody to speak to anybody outside of that as they would risk breaching their NDA and it would just be too terrifying what the consequences of that could be.”Sarah Champion MP said she was “shocked” that people were only able to tell their spouse.Ms Webster, Joint CEO of Your Employment Settlement Service, argued that in most cases the agreements said that you could speak to “professional advisors”, which she would tell clients would include a doctor or therapist. But she agreed that it “probably” needed to be clearer. Ms Brearley said that her campaign group had carried out research in which 260 women responded to their survey to say that they had experienced pregnancy or maternity discrimination and had signed an NDA. Of those 91pc said that they felt “forced to sign that NDA, that they didn’t have any other choice” and 69pc said that signing it had had a “long term impact on their mental health”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “It is put to them as if it is a choice, it is not a choice. There is no other option, there is nowhere else for them to go,” she told the hearing. “Many of these women are in horrendous, vulnerable states. They have just had a baby, they are trying to get used to motherhood and they are going through this awful experience with their employer. They just want it over.”She said that the “silence, the secrecy, damages women for a really long time” but argued that NDAs should not be abolished as many need the settlement. She added: “They want it in that sense that they want it over”. She said making the tribunal process easier and “less brutal” would help, but added: “We should make it clear that women can talk to their counselor about it… that is the least we can do. “Seamus Dooley, Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, argued that they should be abolished in certain cases as “harassment occurs in the dark and the only way we can actually stop it is by shining a light on it”. The committee also heard from Peter Rukin, a partner at Californian law firm Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP, where NDAs are being outlawed in sexual abuse and harassment cases.