The largest bank in the United States – JP Morgan – has been fined $18 million for breaching whistleblower protection rules – one of the most significant penalties imposed by the American financial regulator. As concerns grow in the UK that wealthy corporations are abusing the law to silence their critics, the story offers a timely lead on what the UK could be doing better.
This is another damaging example of whistleblower concerns going unheard with devastating consequences. An effective speak up culture is essential for all organisations to catch problems before they escalate. This is all the more important in health settings where patient safety is at stake. But even more pressing is making sure there is an active listening culture to pick up concerns and ensure whistleblowers are recognised.
The National Audit Office, the independent public spending watchdog, reports that progress to improve whistleblowing in the civil service is slow and inconsistent. Much has already been written about how difficult it is for civil servants to raise concerns outside of their department but this new look at what is happening inside government is disappointing.
Josie Stewart, Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) whistleblower, who is bringing a claim that she was unfairly dismissed because she blew the whistle can’t rely on parts of her evidence because of Parliamentary Privilege.