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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

U.K. Whistleblower Group Releases Eye-Popping Report

Dylan Blaylock, November 27, 2013

Earlier this year, GAP's international coalition partner across the pond – Public Concern at Work (PCaW), based in London – launched an ambitious effort. The good government group put together aWhistleblowing Commission – a group of experts (including noted Olympus whistleblower Michael Woodford) brought together to examine the current arrangements and protections for British whistleblowers, and make recommendations for improvement, nationwide.

This 11-month effort culminated in the Commission's report released earlier today. The in-depth analysis has been anticipated by several U.K. government agencies, and finds that "current legislation is 'not working' and immediate change is needed to ensure whistleblowers are given the confidence to speak out without fear of adverse repercussions." Further, the Commission makes 25 base recommendations for improving the state of whistleblower protections throughout British industries and the federal government.

As detailed by PCaW, significant recommendations include:

  • The U.K. Secretary of State should adopt a 'Code of Practice' which would set out the principles and processes by which British employees would know their rights when speaking out wrongdoing, sans fear of retaliation (similar to many whistleblower protection laws that Americans enjoy).
  • Further, that such a code be "taken into account" by the U.K. court system when lawsuits arise, and that U.K. regulators "require or encourage" the Code be instituted by those entities they regulate. 
  • British regulators themselves should "be more transparent about their own whistleblowing arrangements"
  • That "specific provisions against the blacklisting of whistleblowers" be instituted, a terrible consequence to occupational free speech that GAP sees all-too-frequently.
  • The "strengthening [of] anti-gagging provisions in the law."
  • The "strengthening and clarifying [of] legal protection for whistleblowers."

These are all excellent recommendations, and British regulators would be wise to heed these points from people who know what they're talking about. The chief recommendation is the establishment of the 'Code of Conduct,' of which PCaW CEO, the intelligent Cathy James, stated:

“The Code of Practice provides a set of standards against which organisations can be measured. The Code provides organisations a clear road map for better whistleblowing arrangements. Regulators need to enforce this Code and, if necessary, be given the power to do so.

"The important new focus in this report is on the responsibility of organisations to have specific whistleblowing arrangements that encourage people to speak out with confidence, knowing that they will be treated fairly and listened to and that action will be taken. This is underpinned by a recommended Code of Practice, that all responsible organisations should be implementing now, and not waiting for legislation.”

Hear, hear! GAP wishes nothing but the best for PCaW to make the code a reality in the U.K., and urges British authorities to do so without delay.

Media coverage of the Whistleblowing Commission's report can be found in CIPDThe GuardianThe Lawyer, and ITV/Daybreak.


Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.