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Alerting a third party

The Story

Where a worker reasonably suspects malpractice (inc. a crime), he will be protected from victimisation where he raises  with a person who is legally responsible for the matter and the concern raised is in the public interest.

Adrian worked at a local site of a major waste disposal firm. He was concerned that his colleagues were involved in a big scam defrauding a local paper mill. Adrian suspected that some employees of the mill were being paid to steal top grade paper, which was then concealed amongst waste paper in skips that were collected daily by a waste paper company. When the company delivered the waste to Adrian’s firm, the paper was also sold on for cash, at a fraction of the market cost.

What we advised

Adrian was reluctant to identify himself initially and was concerned that the perpetrators were influential in his firm and had good contacts with the local police. He described the atmosphere at the site as intimidatory, and the managers as bullying and abusive. He feared that if he spoke out, not only would he lose his job, but his life would be made intolerable. From the information that Adrian gave us, we were satisfied that the matter should be looked into. With Adrian’s agreement we contacted the victim of the fraud, the local paper mill.

What happened

Although the company initially suspected we were a security company seeking new business,they soon realised that their procedures left them open to such a fraud. Within a couple of weeks the company caught two of its staff engaged in the scam red-handed. However, they were unable to identify the size of fraud or how long it had gone on. Having obtained assurances on his behalf, we put the company’s investigators in touch with Adrian. He was able to show them how the fraud had been concealed in the paperwork.

With this information the company realised that the fraud had cost it some £3 million. The police were called in and arrests were made. The boss of the waste paper company was convicted and sentenced to three years, and others involved were jailed for several months. Adrian’s foreman was sacked, the chargehand resigned and the manager of the site took early retirement. The local paper mill recovered almost £1 million from its insurers toward the loss and so averted plans to close down with the loss of over one hundred jobs. The atmosphere at Adrian’s firm has improved significantly.

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