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Protect 30th Anniversary Conference Agenda

The day’s proceedings kicked off at 9:00am at Linklaters LLP, One Silk Street, London EC2Y 8HQ with breakfast before a full day schedule of debates and thought provoking discussions.

A screening of the whistleblowing documentary ‘When We Speak’ also took place. Director Tas Brooker and Oxfam whistleblower Helen Evans who feature in the film were both present on the day. See below for an outline of the day’s agenda.

9:30-9:45: Welcome from Elizabeth Gardiner, CEO Protect.

9:45-10:30: How far have we come, how far is there still to go? The panel, comprising of those involved in the charity’s formation in 1993, as well as current employers, experts and whistleblowers reflecting on the cultural changes over 30 years.

Chairing this discussion, Ross Cranston, former High Court Judge and Solicitor General for England and Wales (1998-2001) will talk to Guy Dehn, Founder of Public Concern at Work, Helen Evans, former whistleblower of the year (Oxfam whistleblower), Andy Noble, Head of Whistleblowing and Speak Up NatWest Group and Andrew Pepper-Parsons, Policy Director Protect.

10:30-11:15: Standards, ethics and whistleblowing in the public sector: are the Nolan principles dead? How vital is whistleblowing to upholding standards in public life? Why is it so hard to close the gap between policy and practice in our public institutions? Public sector whistleblowers will be joined by a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the NHS National Freedom to Speak Up Guardian.

Panel chair David Bowles, Non-Executive Director Audit Committee of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, will be joined by Arpita Dutt, Campaigning Employment Lawyer, Helené Donelly, Head of Safety Culture, Nuffield Health, Suzanne McCarthy, Independent Chair of the National Guardian’s Office and Ewen Fergusson, member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

11:15-11:45: Break

11:45-12:30: Who does it best? Whistleblowing views from abroad and lessons for the UK? Chaired by the Director of the Whistleblowing International Network, Anna Myers, this panel will explore how freedom of expression and whistleblowing is developing in USA, Europe, Australia and South Africa, identifying common themes and innovations.

Hear from Robert Spano, former President of the European Court of Human Rights, Tom Devine, Legal Director Government Accountability Project, Pusetso Morapedi, Southern Africa Director Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) and Kieran Pender, Senior lawyer Human Rights Law Centre Australia.

12:30-13:15: Women, Whistleblowing and why #Metoo has changed the way we work. Sexual harassment at work used to be seen as an individual issue, but it is now increasingly a matter of public interest – and able to shake whole organisations to their core. Do settlement agreements allow wrongdoers with deep pockets to get away with it? Should NDAs be banned? What are the drivers of change and what more is needed?

With Law Society President, Lubna Shuja, campaigner Zelda Perkins (Can’t Buy My Silence), employment lawyer Beth Hale, journalist Paul Caruana Galizia, and Tas Brooker, Director of “When We Speak” (a film looking at the experience of female whistleblowers). Chaired by Sybille Raphael, Protect Legal Director.

13:15-14:15: Lunch

14:15: Welcome back from Sarah Veale CBE, Chair of Protect’s Advisory Council, Former Head of the TUC Equality and Employment Rights Department.

Video address from Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, addresses current trends and shares his thoughts on the review of the whistleblowing framework.

Video address from Justin Madders, Shadow Minister for Business, Employment Rights and Levelling Up, addresses the need to strengthen whistleblowers’ rights.

14:30-15:15: Legal Reform of Whistleblowing Protection- is the UK still leading the way? Our panel of cross party of MPs, lawyers and experts will respond to the Minister’s speech and outline whether whistleblowing protection needs reform.

Joining us will be Mukhtiar Singh, Doughty Street Chambers, Elizabeth Gardiner, CEO Protect, Ian Foxley, CEO Parrhesia Inc, Sean Parker, Just Culture Safety Reporting Specialist, Civil Aviation Authority, and Jeremy Lewis KC, Littleton Chambers and Co-Author of Whistleblowing, Law and Practice .

15:15-16:00: Why future generations won’t stand for more of the same toxic workplaces. Workplaces are changing as Gen Z join with different behaviours and values. How will they perceive and report wrongdoing? What difference will technology make, if any? Our panel includes activists, experts in human risk and trade unions.

Hear from Nick Marshall, Linklaters Partner, Christian Hunt, Founder Human Risk, Elle Holland, Law Graduate, Clive Robins, Senior Compliance Manager Nationwide Building Society, Shantha David, Head of Legal Services, UNISON and Fraser Simpson, Associate General Counsel, Ethics, Governance and Compliance at the Wellcome Trust.

16:00-16:15: Break

16:15-17:00: How to resist attempts to silence public interest concerns: what is in the whistleblower’s toolbox to combat SLAPPs?

Whistleblowers face many different legal threats including defamation claims and ‘SLAPPs’ – how can they counter them? What other tools can be used to enforce freedom of expression rights? How do we rebalance the power dynamic between the lone voice acting in the public interest and the might of a well-resourced organisation?

Panel chair Yvonne Cripps, Protect Council Member, will be joined by Jonathan Taylor, oil industry whistleblower, Gavin Millar KC, Matrix Chambers, Meirion Jones, Former Editor, Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Charlie Holt, Co-chair of the UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition.

17:00-17:45: Speaking up on climate change and launch of Protect’s new environmental whistleblowing toolkit 

Workers’ climate consciousness is increasing – and so is climate litigation against organisations. Workers are paying even greater attention to their employers’ responses to climate change. How can speaking up help address the impact businesses have on the climate? What role do whistleblowers play in the fight against environmental damage? Are there issues specific to environmental whistleblowing? What does the international landscape look like?

Hear from Desiree Fixler, DWS whistleblower and ESG specialist, Caitlín Comins, Protect Legal Officer, Gabriel Bourdon-Fattal, Co-Founder Climate Whistleblowers and Natalie Prosser, CEO Office for Environmental Protection. Chaired by Schona Jolly KC, Cloisters Chambers.

Closing remarks from James Laddie KC, Matrix Chambers

18:00-19:30 Drinks Reception and film screening of When We Speak, the documentary which tells the stories of three female whistleblowers: British intelligence employee Katharine Gun, Oxfam aid worker Helen Evans and Hollywood actress Rose McGowan.