New Internationalist

Whistleblowers are us

Whistleblowers are often the source of information and evidence which exposes corruption or abuse within corporate or government organizations and publicly funded agencies (such as the National Health Service (NHS) or care homes). Think of Bradley Manning who supplied Wikileaks with data on US military secrets; Deep Throat, whose evidence exposed President Nixon; or Professor Steve Bolsin, who revealed the alarmingly high rates of child deaths at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Whistle

Now, a new group, Whistleblowers UK (WBUK) has been formed to help those who dare to speak out. The inaugural conference of Whistleblowers UK was held on 15 March and organized by Paul Moore (HBOS whistleblower) and Gavin Macfaden, Director of the Centre of Investigative Journalism. Some of Britain’s most famous whistleblowers travelled from all over the country to attend, including Dr Kim Holt (Baby P’s death), Eileen Chubb (abuse of elderly in care homes), Ian Foxley (allegations of bribes by British defence contractors) and Andrew Feinstein (ex-South African politician who exposed bribes to government ministers).

WBUK is best described as a mutual self-help group of whistleblowers set up to offer support to fellow whistleblowers. Its mission is to:

1. Protect legitimate whistleblowers from intimidation and threats;

2. Provide, in complete confidence, mutual support, help, advice and friendship to legitimate whistleblowers through practical measures such as personal visits, regular supportive phone calls and conferences and, in extremis, financial help;

3. Collectively lobby and influence policymakers within government and parliament and other institutions. For example, the group has already successfully lobbied the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards to recognize that the WBUK banking and accountancy members can assist the Commission and provide valuable insights into reasons for misconduct within the financial services industry.

4. Provide practical support in accompanying whistleblowers, as witnesses, attending court sessions or meetings with regulators.

5. Provide witness, evidence and information where appropriate to the British and international media on matters of corruption and abuses and on whistleblowing issues.

6. Protect our democracy from corporate and state abuse.

Current campaigns include putting legitimate pressure on the NHS and care sectors to ensure the standards of dignified and compassionate care are applied to vulnerable patients. (See Compassion in Care and Patients First), as well as campaigns relating to issues concerning senior level conduct within the Lloyds Banking Group which the Financial Services Authority and the Crown Prosecution Service are investigating. WBUK members have also alleged irregularities within large accountancy auditing firms.

Join WBUK for its launch event on 12 December! The launch will take place from 12.30-2pm in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre at City University London, EC1V 0HB (Please use the main Northampton Square entrance to University Building).

Help WBUK build up its readership support and spread the word by subscribing to the WBUK website: www.whistleblowersuk.org

Ian Taplin is a founding member of WBUK and can be contacted via the Don’t Bank on Lloyds’ Ethics website.

Illustration: Electronic Frontier Foundation under a CC Licence.

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  1. #1 kim holt 12 Dec 12

    Patients First support this new group as an additional strong voice advocating for change.There are major challenges for anyone who tries to stand up against powerful forces in our society. There seems to be an increasing recognition that the status quo cannot continue, and that in order to do the right thing for the public, integrity and transparency should be the new order.
    Patients First is working hard to support health professionals speak up when they see unsafe care in hospitals, community settings and care homes. We now know that the law is not protective of whistleblowers and we are pressing politicians for a review of the law. In the New Year Robert Francis will present his findings following the Mid Staffs public inquiry and we expect that the duty for medical staff and nurses to challenge poor care will be reemphasised. If that be the case then these staff need proper support and protection.
    Patients First are also campaigning for the end of confidentiality clauses in the health service that prevent staff speaking about medical mistakes and unsafe care. This is wrong and must end.
    Whistleblowers UK will be an additonal strong voice to join alongside the many campaigners that have been struggling to be heard for years, such as Eileen Chubb, ’Compassion in Care’, and so forth.

    Best wishes Kim Holt Chair Patients First.

  2. #3 Colleen Mellors 13 Jul 16

    Excellent article, Ian. I understand your group is more about the ’movement’ now also. We must never give up, in spite of the huge odds against individuals and groups of individuals...

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