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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

WIPO Director General Retaliates Against Whistleblower

Bea Edwards, October 04, 2016

At the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the UN, former Deputy Director General James Pooley, filed a misconduct report through proper channels in April, 2014. The subject of his report was Francis Gurry, the Director General, whom Pooley alleged had influenced a procurement process to steer a contract to an acquaintance, among other things. The case has been mishandled in such a way that Gurry – after an investigation determined that Pooley’s allegation was true – was able to circulate to Member States a 9-page attack on Pooley’s integrity entitled: “On the Motivation of Mr. Pooley’s Complaint.”

Pooley, a WIPO whistleblower, appointee of the Obama administration, and GAP client, left WIPO to return to private legal practice when his term expired in 2015. As a whistleblower, he should have been protected from retaliation like the attack on his ethics and integrity. He has not been. Instead, he has been obliged to defend himself

Gurry was given an unredacted copy of the report on the investigation of Pooley’s (and others’) allegations after investigators validated Pooley’s mis-procurement allegation. Gurry was therefore told the identity of his accusers and the content of their witness statements. Although at that point, he should have been suspended to prevent retaliation, he never was. As the WIPO Director General, he continued to wield the full authority of his position and was able to use it to retaliate against those who disclosed his misconduct.

The US State Department, which publicly advocates whistleblower protections at the UN, has allowed this farcical episode to continue. The US delegation has stood by as Gurry evades accountability for his improper actions and attacks the whistleblower who sought to defend the integrity of the international patent process. 

Under existing regulations, Gurry should have been suspended months ago. Because he wasn’t and because the United States did not insist on the enforcement of existing due process regulations, a WIPO whistleblower has been publicly pilloried.