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PEOPLE

Our Team

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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”.

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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.``

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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.``

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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.'``

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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.``

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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.``

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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.``

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Amna Shabbir, Volunteer

Amna joined Protect as a Policy and Research Volunteer in January 2022. Amna graduated from The University of Exeter in 2019 and completed her LPC LLM from The University of Law in Bloomsbury with Distinction. She has prior experience working with a multi-national corporation, an intergovernmental organisation and the charity sector. She is currently working to become a dual-qualified lawyer.

``Stronger whistleblowing laws ensure that organisations remain open and supportive for all individuals. I have developed a strong interest in the intersection of Law and Policy and am keen to work with Protect on creating a positive change for whistleblowing laws!``

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Isa Cooper, Volunteer

Isa joined Protect as a Policy and Research Volunteer in 2022. Since graduating from Oxford University with a Geography BA, she has gained over 2 years legal immigration casework experience across London and Athens. This year she will begin her law conversion (SQE).

``I have seen firsthand the stress and anxiety caused by whistleblowing, and believe these feelings are not inevitable when there is sufficient support, advice and regulation. So, I'm looking forward to working with Protect to ensure future whistleblowers are treated better!``
``Stronger whistleblowing laws ensure that organisations remain open and supportive for all individuals. I have developed a strong interest in the intersection of Law and Policy and am keen to work with Protect on creating a positive change for whistleblowing laws!``

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Kate Austins, Legal Adviser

Kate started her training contract with Baker McKenzie in September 2020 and is completing her final seat on secondment with Protect. She studied law at King's College London and the LPC and LLM at BPP. She has volunteered for various organisations and charities in the form of mentoring, researching and carrying out pro bono work.
``Whistleblowing protection is so important not only because whistleblowing is crucial to holding entities accountable for wrongdoing, but also because of the amount that a whistleblower risks in making protected disclosures. We need to protect whistleblowers to encourage others to feel empowered expose corruption, bribery, crime, unethical behaviour, environmental damage, health and safety issues… the list goes on! It's absolutely right that these people are protected from dismissal, mistreatment and prosecution for doing the right thing.``

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Alex Allen, Marketing Officer

Alex is a graduate from University of Greenwich, London. He specialises in digital media & managing online content. He has various experience and knowledge of website best practices, digital marketing and what makes great user experience. His role at Protect, involves marketing campaigns, products and services within the online realms of web pages, social media and analytics. Alex has also gained previous experience of working on nationwide campaigns, digital transformation projects plus industry regulators within the charity & non-profit sectors.

A keen learner and creative he is excited about what the technology and digital space has to offer next, as these industries are constantly evolving.

“I wanted to work for Protect because I believe that everybody should have the right to speak up within the workplace for any wrongdoings without the fear of being victimised. I admire the bravery of whistleblowers for having the courage and believe that Protect can make a difference to society.”

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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.

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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.``

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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.”

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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.”

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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)

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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.``

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Queenie Sit, Volunteer

Queenie joined Protect as a Policy and Research volunteer in March 2022. Since graduating from her undergraduate law studies from UCL, she worked in a global corporate organisation for six years where she focussed on advising clients on people, culture, organisational and process effectiveness. During the pandemic, she decided on career change and returned to the law where she is a current LLM student at Queen Mary University of London. Her passions range from equality and fair treatment in the workplace, protection of migrant rights, and investigation of state crime.

“Whistleblowing is what we need in our current society, to push governments and organisations to hold themselves to a higher standard. Whistleblowing takes an immense amount of courage and strength of conviction, and I am excited to work with Protect in strengthening the policies we have to protect and encourage whistle blowers.”

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Phoebe Mather, Volunteer

Phoebe joined Protect as a volunteer in January 2022. Phoebe obtained a Firs Class Honours degree in Theology & Religion from Durham University before completing a Master’s in Law with Distinction and then embarking on the Bar Training Course. She has previous volunteering experience in the employment sector including with an advice line during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as experience in journalism.

“Whistleblowers speaking up benefits society as a whole and I am looking forward to seeking parliamentary support for further protection for brave whistleblowers across more industries.”

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Gabriel Salter, Communications Officer

Gabriel studied History at UCL and Cambridge before working in communications roles across a range of charities and organisations. He is firmly committed to societal equality, workers' rights, migrants' rights and tackling the housing crisis having campaigned for UCU, the Labour Party and the London Renters Union.

“I think both whistleblowing and the work Protect does to support whistleblowers are incredibly important. They help protect the powerless, hold the powerful to account and promote workplace democracy and transparency. I am excited to help spread Protect’s good work and hope to make all of the UK aware that they can and should speak up against injustice or malpractice at work.”

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Donya Mojtahed-Zadeh, Legal Adviser

Donya studied law at Queen Mary University London (with a year studying abroad in Belgium at KU Leuven). She previously worked at the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau, assisting litigants in person with their family and domestic abuse legal advice needs. She is passionate about critical human rights and access to justice.

'I believe those acting beyond their powers should be held to account and that whistleblowing is a necessary corrective to these kinds of abuses we see in the workplace, and society more broadly. By joining Protect, I hope to continue supporting those most in need of legal advice, especially in a climate where legal aid and other government assistance tools are becoming increasingly inaccessible for the average person.'