Liz Gardiner, Chief Executive
Liz was appointed as Protect’s Chief Executive in March 2020. Liz is an employment solicitor who joined Protect as Legal Officer in July 2018 and became Acting Chief Executive in December 2019.
Liz joined Protect after working for the charity Working Families on their legal helpline, advising parents and carers about discrimination and flexible working issues. She has a background in Parliament and policy work before retraining as a solicitor.
“Protect has a proud history of supporting individual whistleblowers, working with employers on best practice and campaigning for changes to the law. I’m delighted to lead this talented and committed team and the work we do in protecting the public interest and changing workplace cultures for good”.
Victoria Benaityte, Head of Marketing
Victoria joined Protect in 2019. She has transitioned to the charity sector in 2017, following an academic sabbatical during which she gained an MA in International Studies from the University of Washington. Prior to this, she worked in the private sector in the UK and internationally, focusing on marketing, brand building and PR.
Victoria is enthusiastic about raising income and awareness for Protect and ensuring the public understands the positive impact of whistleblowing.
Nneka Egbuji, Senior Adviser and Trainee Solicitor
Nneka began volunteering with us as a Legal Researcher in November 2017 whilst completing her Law postgraduate course at Queen Mary University of London and joined as an adviser in July 2018.
“After volunteering for Protect for over seven months, I decided to apply for the Adviser role because I admired the significant difference Protect has made in whistleblowers’ lives. I find this role is very rewarding because I have the opportunity to make a difference not only for individual whistleblowers but also for society as a whole.”
Bob Matheson, Head of Advice & Advocacy
Bob manages our Advice Line and leads on our legal intervention work helping whistleblowers with their cases.
Before joining Protect in 2015, Bob work at several other prominent legal advice centres. Bob obtained a first class degree from University College London before completing his Graduate Diploma in Law.
``Whistleblowing is all about power dynamics. To help an individual raise their concerns in the most effective - and safest - manner, requires a quick understanding of these dynamics and the organisational culture which contributes to them. This is why you can never give out-of-the-box advice to a whistleblower. Every situation needs bespoke advice. The pairing of environment and concern is always a unique combination.``
Andrew Pepper-Parsons, Head of Policy
Andy oversees our lobbying and research, as well as being a senior adviser on the advice line, handling more complex cases. Andy qualified with an LLB in Law from Solent University, and has a MSc in Government, Policy and Politics from Birkbeck, University of London and has been with Protect since 2007.
“I look forward to the work we are planning around the whistleblowing law PIDA and changes we'd like to see in the law to better protect whistleblowers. There is a lot of work to be done engaging with the government and policy makers on what needs to be done to overhaul the law as it stands at the moment.``
Sybille Raphael, Legal Director
Sybille is an experienced solicitor and employment law specialist who co-ordinates Protect's legal case work and is closely involved in the policy work of the charity including its campaigns for improved legal protections. She also works with employers supporting organisations in getting their arrangements right to develop a ‘speak up culture’, empowering workers to raise concerns when things can be done better.
Previously she was Head of Legal Advice at Working Families where she managed the award-winning Legal Advice Services of the charity and led on Working Families’ pro bono programme. She started her career in private practice, at August & Debouzy in Paris and Slater Gordon (ex Russell Jones & Walker) in London.
Grace Wilkin, Business Support Executive
``Grace is a Law Graduate who studied at the University of Sussex and the University of Maastricht, specialising in International and European Union Law. Grace has extensive experience of volunteering in the food sector and has recently completed a study in Microeconomics from the University of Oxford.
'Whistleblowers are vital to promote a fair and transparent society but often face retaliation for speaking up, which is why I am so pleased to join in with the amazing work that Protect does to support individuals and organisations. Ensuring best practice within an organisation when it comes to whistleblowing is of the utmost importance, to create a positive work culture.'``
Frances Steele, Office Manager
Frances deals with many different aspects of Protect's day-to-day administration from client invoices, overseeing the design and printing of our corporate materials to helping us with events and conferences and has many years experience of working in social enterprises and the publishing industry.
``We're a small but very busy team, and I enjoy helping the event side of our work run smoothly as well as supporting staff with varied tasks.``
Jon Cunningham, Business Development Director
Jon has responsibility for our work supporting organisations in getting their arrangements right, making staff feel confident in speaking up. This includes our support packages, training courses and consultancy. Jon has worked in the charity sector since 2002 in a variety of management, operational and business development roles, has a BA Hons in Development Studies and MBA, and joined Protect in 2012.
``I love working with this team of experts, and using our knowledge and experience to benefit individuals, organisations and wider society.``
Lou O'Neill, Head of Communications
Lou joined Protect in November 2016 as our Head of Communications. After starting out as a journalist working for local and national newspapers, TV news and magazines, Lou moved into PR and comms and has worked as a press officer for NHS England, the London Ambulance Service, Kent County Council and various charities including UNICEF, WWF, and the RHS.
``Whistleblowers play a key role in keeping society safe. Telling their stories is fascinating. It would be great to see more happy endings and outcomes for whistleblowers.``
Rhiannon Plimmer-Craig, Senior Adviser and Parliamentary Officer
Rhiannon joined Protect in July 2019 after graduating with a First in Law from University College London. She spent a year of her degree studying Australian law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. She has previous volunteering experience in mentoring roles.
“I joined Protect because of the importance of whistleblowing in ensuring a healthy and safe working environment. Whistleblowing can affect anyone of us, in any workplace, and has a vital impact on the wellbeing of society as a whole. That is why it is so rewarding to advise the brave callers who are speaking up about wrongdoing in their workplace. I love the variety that every call brings; we work with a vast range of industries and advise on a number of concerns, so no two days are the same.”
Emma Darlow Stearn, Legal Adviser
Emma joined Protect in 2021 after completing the GDL with distinction. She also has an MA in Performance and a BA (Hons First Class) in English Language and Literature. She has worked as an actress and musician for the last decade and her experience in the charity sector includes volunteering as a caseworker for Hackney Migrant Centre.
“Working in the arts, I witnessed part of what the #MeToo movement highlighted- that making a disclosure is often complicated by entrenched power dynamics. Placing a positive duty on employers to support ‘speaking up’ is integral to ensuring the safety of any workplace. I am delighted to join Protect, who not only offer unparalleled support to whistleblowers and training to employers, but are also a key driver of reform.”
(photo © Zora Kuettner)
Alex Southworth, Business Support Executive
Alex joined Protect in 2021 after studying law at the University of Exeter. He spent a year of his degree studying Canadian law at Carleton University in Ottawa, and has worked in other charitable roles such as providing free tennis coaching for underprivileged children in his local community.
``Over the years I have been reading about high profile whistleblowing cases and I jumped at the chance to join Protect's Business Support team as it is vital that organisations of all types and sizes have effective whistleblowing arrangements. I am proud to support organisations in facilitating the best and most positive processes possible.``
Caitlin Comins, Legal Adviser
Caitlin obtained a First Class Honours degree in Politics and History from SOAS University of London, before completing the Graduate Diploma in Law with Distinction in 2020. Prior to joining Protect she worked as an Advocate for Rethink Mental Illness and the National Youth Advocacy Service. Caitlin has also volunteered with legal organisations such as Liberty.
``Whistleblowing is important to me because of its power as a tool to hold organisations to account and prevent wrongdoing. Working as an advocate in hospitals and care homes evidenced to me the importance of a strong speak up culture, and the damage that can be done when workers do not feel able to freely and safely raise their concerns. Ensuring whistleblowers are supported and protected benefits not only workers but society as a whole.``
Isaac Heather, Legal Adviser
Isaac studied law at Cambridge University and after graduating spent a year working for the student team of a church in Cambridge and has recently been working part-time for a GP surgery helping with the efforts of the local COVID vaccination Centre.
``Growing up I read so many stories of negligent, abusive, or dangerous practices thriving behind closed doors. I believe that protecting and empowering brave people who are considering opening the doors and speaking up is crucial in making workplaces more accountable, people safer, and society fairer for everyone.``
Rebecca Durkin, Legal Adviser
Rebecca studied History at Oxford University, before completing the Graduate Diploma in Law in 2020 and the Legal Practice Course in 2021. While at university, she campaigned for a Living Wage for all staff at the university, and volunteered with a homeless outreach charity. She has also previously volunteered for the charity Support Through Court, providing practical and emotional support to people going through court proceedings alone.
``I believe whistleblowing plays a vital role within society. Too often there is a lack of transparency within organisations and institutions which can cause real damage and put people at risk. Having people who are brave enough to stand up and say when something is going wrong is incredibly important, and I believe that it’s crucial that those people get all the support that they need to help them to do this.``