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Whistleblowing culture in central Government needs overhauling

The inquiry into bullying allegations by Home Secretary Priti Patel has led to much disquiet in Whitehall with questions raised about the state of whistleblowing culture within central Government.  The Home Secretary said she was not aware of allegations against her – this is troubling.  The report is unclear whether no one felt able to speak ... Read more

Misidentified whistleblowers – falling through the cracks

Whistleblowing serves a vital public function. It ensures that public interest wrongdoing in the workplace is called out, resolved and protects not only workers and employers but the public at large. Whistleblowers like Jonathan Taylor[1], Chris Day[2] and Clare Gilham[3] have helped expose issues of international corruption, poor patient care and failures in the justice ... Read more

‘To UK and other world authorities: what sort of example are you setting to would-be whistleblowers?’

UK national Jonathan Taylor blew the whistle in 2013 on a $275 million international network of bribes paid by his employers Monaco-based Dutch oil platform company SBM Offshore. His evidence was investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office, investigators in Brazil and the Netherlands as well as the FBI and the US Department of Justice. … Read more

Law Commission back Protect proposals for Official Secrets Act reform

The Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1989  – used to protect government data from unauthorised disclosures by criminalising those that disclosure such information without authority – has been a contentious law for many civil society groups, including Protect, who have long been calling for its reform. Protect has been calling for the introduction of a statutory … Read more

Guest blog: Charity Sector Speak Up Network

The charity sector has seen a steady flow of incidents where it is likely that the outcomes could have been very different, and more constructive had there been a strong speak up culture within the organisations concerned. Key to this is charity trustees and senior managers proactively ‘listening up’ to concerns about wrongdoing and demonstrating ... Read more

Ellen DeGeneres Show staff latest to call out toxic workplace culture

Although strides have been made to put sexual harassment at work firmly on employers’ agendas, it must fatigue the advocates for workplace equality that it remains largely just that - an agenda item. The Ellen Degeneres Show scandal is the latest toxic workplace to showcase racism, bullying and sexual harassment. Three words which one would ... Read more

Whistleblower reveals maternity unit is still failing patients

The maternity unit at Basildon University Hospital has been ordered to carry out urgent improvements after a whistleblower anonymously raised serious concerns about patient safety to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Protect Adviser Rhiannon Plimmer-Craig explores what this latest scandal says about the culture of the health sector, how whistleblowers are treated and why whistleblowers … Read more

Complaints Commissioner Report supports Protect’s recommendations

The Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner (an independent body responsible for reviewing the conduct of financial regulators in the UK) this month published a number of recommendations for regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in response to a whistleblower’s complaint about the FCA’s approach to their disclosure and how they had been treated. Protect welcome the … Read more

Covid-19 exposing good and bad whistleblowing practice in the retail sector

Covid-19 is exposing good and bad practice when it comes to sectors who put employee welfare first and foremost. Unsurprisingly, retail is not leading the way, as highlighted by the quite shocking reports of working conditions of Boohoo suppliers in Leicester. As the UK’s whistleblowing charity, we advise workers from all sectors. At the start … Read more

Whistleblower Reward Schemes: Who Really Benefits?

In March of this year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the creation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’). Protect’s Advice Line rapidly saw a spike in reports of “furlough fraud”, and, at the time of writing, handling nearly 300 calls with HMRC receiving 4,500 reports of fraud from whistleblowers[1]. This level … Read more

Mind the Gap: Have Whistleblowing Rules Improved culture within the financial sector?

Protect with the support of Slater & Gordon Lawyers has launched Silence in the City 2 (SITC2 2020), a new report examining whether whistleblowing culture within financial services organisations has improved following the introduction of Whistleblowing Rules by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This blog will examine what employers can learn from the research. Background: … Read more

Whistleblowers protect public services, says government fraud report

Local government procurement is big business, and in England alone costs the taxpayer £55 billion a year[1]. Even more staggering is the amount lost to fraud each year which is estimated to be between £275 million and £2.75 billion[2]. A recent report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government Department, in line with … Read more

Advice for Employers on World Whistleblowers Day

With World Whistleblowers Day  here (Tuesday, 23 June), the Business Support team at Protect has been reflecting on the work of employers who are commendably continuing to strive to achieve a strong and positive speak-up culture, and how those with best practice policies could use this national focus day to signpost employees to their arrangements. … Read more

Bullying and Whistleblowing

Far too often is bullying a prevalent concern in the workplace, which places a strain on workplace culture and leaves employees stressed. In the wake of a Cabinet Office investigation into the bullying behaviour of Home Secretary Priti Patel that is set to be concluded this week, the former Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip … Read more

Building Confidence in the Regulatory System – or not?

In the UK, certain regulators are recognised as ‘prescribed persons’ by the government, for example the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Safety Executive. Being a ‘prescribed person’ means that an organisation can be approached to receive and handle specific concerns, as listed online. This matters for whistleblowers, as making a disclosure of information … Read more

Whistleblowers can stop new “furlough” fraud

The Covid-19 crisis has given rise to fast changing laws and regulations, and new loopholes and opportunities for fraud have emerged. Within a few weeks of the furlough scheme’s introduction, Protect has seen a rising trend in calls from whistleblowers concerned their employer is acting unlawfully. Whistleblowers will be vital in policing this scheme to … Read more

Covid-19, Social Media and Whistleblowing

Advice to health workers thinking of using social media to raise concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Media reports of whistleblowers being gagged, dismissed or threatened with dismissal for speaking out publicly about issues in the global pandemic are worrying, and we at Protect have voiced these concerns in a statement saying how short sighted this … Read more

Whistleblowing and Journalism

Whistleblowing is raising public interest concerns relating to wrongdoing, malpractice or risk in the workplace. This could be fraud in a bank, food hygiene concerns, or issues relating to patient safety. And whilst whistleblowing concerns are not limited to widescale wrongdoing, recent scandals in the media such as the NHS Shrewsbury maternity scandal and NHS … Read more

The way we work may have changed – but whistleblowing in the right way remains a constant

COVID-19 has drastically changed the way in which we work. Government guidance has led to the temporary closure of a number of businesses while others have been tasked with finding quick and effective ways to ensure that staff are able to work from home where possible and that business can continue as usual. For organisations … Read more

Time to reform gagging clauses

Gagging clauses have become quite the talking point thanks partly due to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo era and countless other news stories exposing their misuse. Controversial debate around the use of gagging clauses, or NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and financial settlements to conceal sexual assault and harassment has tarnished the image of NDAs … Read more

Whistleblowing, transparency and activism

Academics, journalists, whistleblowers, advocates and members of the public gathered at The Shard for an event hosted by Warwick Business School recently to discuss the hurdles they faced in their own journeys and recent trends in whistleblowing. Protect’s Policy Officer, Laura Fatah, attended the event arranged by academics Marianna Fotaki and Iain Munro (www.whistleblowingimpact.com) with … Read more

Why legal aid for whistleblowers is needed now

Research around whistleblowing claims under whistle blowing law, the the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) being brought before the employment tribunals point to a worrying figure of a 3% success rate. Discrimination cases also fare as badly, with age discrimination cases being even lower at 1%. Overall, employment tribunal actions have a success rate … Read more

Queen’s Speech represents a cross-road for whistleblowing protection

Today’s Queen’s Speech sees the UK Government commit through an Employment Bill to: ‘Protect and enhance workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU, making Britain the best place in the world to work’. Details on what this will mean in practice are in short supply, and that includes what the future holds for reform … Read more

Protect’s draft Whistleblowing Bill will stop victimisation at source

Amjad Rihan raised concerns about his employer laundering money and was branded a troublemaker and dismissed. Howard Shaw raised concerns about the Met Police’s interview process and was removed from his unit and faced unfounded disciplinary action. Shahmir Sanni blew the whistle on Vote Leave’s campaign tactics and was outed as gay by Downing Street … Read more

A safe alternative to silence for employees

As the UK’s leading whistleblowing experts focussed on whistleblowing and the public interest we have a unique insight into both the organisational and the employee perspective of raising concerns. Our Advice Line – open Monday – Friday 9-6pm – is independent, confidential, and protected by legal privilege to ensure  whistleblowers can speak freely about their … Read more

Why it’s time to improve protections for whistleblowers

Once a ground-breaking law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which protects whistleblowers in the UK, and which has served as a benchmark for whistleblowing law, is being overtaken by newer, better and broader legislation, in Ireland and Australia, and the new EU Whistleblowing Directive which will be in operation by 2021. Unless the UK … Read more

Why We Need to Celebrate Workers Who Speak Up

Public consciousness has swung in favour of whistleblowers who speak up against wrongdoing as they shine a light on malpractice. This in turn has forced organisations to ensure that they have good governance arrangements in place to make them viable, ethical and competitive in today’s workplace culture. A Protect survey conducted by E&Y found 93% of organisations said they have formal whistleblowing arrangements in place however only 43% of UK workers were aware of … Read more

A day in the life at Protect by US intern Brooke Bunn

I am a student from the US, studying Psychology and Law, Societies & Justice, who has the amazing opportunity of living and working in the UK and joining the team at Protect for the next seven weeks as an intern. I had a good idea of the work Protect did, but it was not until … Read more

Whistleblowing: new regulations, new contexts, same old?

How can we better support whistleblowers and protect them from victimisation? Will new regulations change what we can hope for?  These were the themes of the CREW ( Centre for Research on Employment and Work) seminar: ‘Whistleblowing: new regulations, new contexts, same old?’ held at the University of Greenwich. However good the law or company … Read more

Voices of Justice International Conference

Protect attended the Voices of Justice International Conference on Corporate Crime Reporting and Whistleblower’s Protection, organised by the Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity at Coventry University in partnership with Constantine Cannon, WhistleblowersUK and MLROs.com The conference, held to explore the close relationship between corporate crime reporting and whistleblowing within the public and private sector, … Read more

When leaking becomes whistleblowing and why the law makes no distinction

Is the revelation about Government splits over the role Huawei should play in the rollout of 5G technology within the secretive National Security Council (NSC), an act of reckless leaking, or brave whistleblowing? For many inside and outside of Government, this was a dangerous and corrosive leak. This was the first time the press has … Read more

Whatever you think of Assange, whistleblowers depend on press freedom

Julian Assange is back in the limelight, after seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Most media and public attention has been focused on the man, while the war atrocities that Wikileaks revealed have not been addressed. Is Assange a hero? A criminal? Someone to be proud of and to defend, or someone who … Read more

Non-disclosure agreements: Zelda Perkins in conversation with Karon Monaghan QC

Zelda Perkins, former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, discussed non-disclosure agreements in a conversation with equality barrister Karon Monaghan QC at UCL recently. Protect adviser Dugald Johnson went along to hear the discussion. Zelda began by recounting how, after persistent sexual harassment, she and a colleague resigned from Miramax, Weinstein’s film company. She described that the … Read more

Kark Review recommendations to strengthen Fit and Proper Persons Test welcomed

Protect welcomes the Kark Review recommendations to give more teeth to the Fit and Proper Persons Test (FPPT) –  which is in place to ensure senior staff responsible for quality and safety of care are fit for their roles. Led by Tom Kark QC, the review, commissioned by the government, looks at how effective the … Read more

Government NDA proposals: a good place to start

In response to the #Metoo movement and scandals like the Presidents Club the government are consulting on limiting the use of confidentiality clauses  – also known as non-disclosure agreements  in sexual and racial harassment cases.    The Government’s announcement to Parliament on Monday (March 4) made it clear that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have their legitimate … Read more

Digital gangsters and privacy rights – is it all too late?

You have more to worry about Facebook, Google and the like collecting your data than any information any government holds on you. That was the view of Mark Zaid, US Attorney who spoke at UCL’s conference on “Privacy and Data: Law and Practice” about the guardians of information in our “post-truth” world. He should know … Read more

When the authorities fail, journalists prevail

In June 1994, in small village in Northern Ireland, six Catholic men were shot dead at point blank range by loyalists, as they watched the World Cup in their local pub. The main shooter was accompanied by two others, and although within 24 hours the local residents had a strong indication of whom the murderers … Read more

War, Journalism and Whistleblowers: 15 years after Katharine Gun’s truth telling on the verge of the Iraq War’

28th March 2018 Katherine Gun blew the whistle on GCHQ spying on the UN Security Council, revealing an illegal attempt to undermine the democratic process and increase the appetite for war in Iraq. And she did it within 48 hours. The event ‘War, Journalism and Whistleblowers: 15 years after Katharine Gun’s truth telling on the … Read more

Social care needs a strong whistleblowing culture

18th April 2018 Social care in England is undervalued, underfunded and on the brink of collapse. Being old and in care can, for some people, feel precarious. The statistics showing the state of care homes across the UK are sobering. The Care Quality Commission regulator says almost one in four care homes are inadequate or … Read more

War, journalism and whistleblowers: 15 years after Katharine Gun’s truth telling on the verge of the Iraq war

Katherine Gun blew the whistle on GCHQ spying on the UN Security Council, revealing an illegal attempt to undermine the democratic process and increase the appetite for war in Iraq. And she did it within 48 hours. The event ‘War, Journalism and Whistleblowers: 15 years after Katharine Gun’s truth telling on the verge of the … Read more

SOCIAL CARE NEEDS A STRONG WHISTLEBLOWING CULTURE

Social care in England is undervalued, underfunded and on the brink of collapse. Being old and in care can, for some people, feel precarious. The statistics showing the state of care homes across the UK are sobering. The Care Quality Commission regulator says almost one in four care homes are inadequate or require improvement, while … Read more

What is Crowd Justice?

We all have legal rights, but it’s not always easy to access them. As Sir James Mathew, an Irish judge is said to have quipped, over one hundred years ago: in England, justice is open to all, “like the Ritz Hotel.” In 2015, with this in mind, a former UN lawyer founded CrowdJustice – the … Read more