District Judge Claire Gilham who blew the whistle on the stresses and dangers faced by those working in under-resourced courts, is to have her case against the Ministry of Justice heard at the Supreme Court between June 5-6.
Protect, formerly Public Concern at Work, are intervening in the Supreme Court case and have instructed law firm Leigh Day to represent our case.
As a District Judge at Warrington County Court Claire Gilham raised concerns in 2013 and claims no action was taken and that she was subjected to bullying and the stress of greater workloads. She argues in her legal case she suffered detriments as a result of blowing the whistle.
Currently, most office holders, such as judges or non-executive directors, do not have the same legal protection as other workers if they suffer a detriment after having ‘blown the whistle’. However, police officers, who are also deemed to be office holders, do have whistleblowing protection under current legislation.
Head of Advocacy and Advice at Protect, Bob Matheson, said, “Protect intervenes in cases where there is a wider public policy issue at stake. Here the issue is who should have protection – and our view is that the law is too narrowly drawn if judges are excluded from protection when they identify concerns. We want the government to conduct a wider review of UK whistleblowing legislation, but until then, the Courts can shape the law.”
Leigh Day also represented Protect following their intervention in the same case when it was heard in the Court of Appeal in 2017. Protect will argue that judges should be entitled to whistleblowing protection and that to deprive judges of whistleblowing protection is incompatible with Article 10 and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Kiran Daurka, employment partner at Leigh Day who is representing Protect, said: “As part of ensuring we have a fair and effective legal system it is important that those working at the heart of the administration of justice have adequate protections in place should they need to raise concerns. It is essential that the current legal framework for whistleblower protection is compatible with human rights legislation. Whistleblower protection is clearly intended to have wide application to support and encourage individuals to speak out about wrongdoing.”
Protect have been calling on the government to review UK whistleblowing legislation, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which it says is in danger of falling behind new EU whistleblowing legislation (due to be implemented across the EU by 2021). The EU Directive has a much broader scope which allows fpr protection of many more whistleblowers.