UK whistleblowing, a non definitive resource guide

Exposing wrongdoing can be a risky endeavour. If you are serious about whistleblowing get professional advice or do your homework.

source: https://thenounproject.com/term/whistleblower/89125/

Government Guidance

According GOV.UK, you are whistleblowing if “you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing”. The wrongdoings you are disclosing should be in the “public interest”. As a whistleblower, you are protected by law, and should be be treated fairly and have an expectation not to loose your job (due to the act of whistleblowing itself).

Note that personal grievances are not protected under the whistleblowing law, under they are in the public interest. For a summarised list of complaints protected by law see this Whistleblowing for employees page.

The Law

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 provides the legal framework for whistleblowing protection.

According to GOV.UK, the Act protects workers from detrimental treatment or victimisation from their employer if, in the public interest, they blow the whistle on wrongdoing.

In legal terms, “qualifying disclosure” are “any disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making the disclosure, tends to show one or more of the following“ (Act text):

  • that a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed,
  • that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which he is subject,
  • that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur,
  • that the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered,
  • that the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged, or
  • that information tending to show any matter falling within any one of the preceding paragraphs has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.

Additional guidance can be found here:

Non Government Organisations

Protect aims to make whistleblowing work for individuals, organisations and society.

Every year, we support around 3,000 whistleblowers who call our Advice Line. In addition, we work with organisations on improving their speak up arrangements and campaign for better legal protection of whistleblowers.

Citizen Advice is network of independent charities throughout the United Kingdom that give free, confidential information and advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and other problems (wikipedia)

We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward — whoever they are, and whatever their problem. Our national charity and network of local charities offer confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free.

Anonymity

Whistleblowing may identify themselves or file their claims anonymously.

According to the Guidance for Employers and Code of Practice provided by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, an employer’s policy should include an:

An explanation that anonymous whistleblowers will not ordinarily be able to receive feedback and that any action taken to look into a disclosure could be limited — anonymous whistleblowers may seek feedback through a telephone appointment or by using an anonymised email address

For a short guide on how to obtain an anonymised email address see this geekflare page:

Secure Drop

Another useful tool for maintaining anonymity is the creation of a secure document drop endpoint, where whistleblowers can deposit leaked information. Your employer may have created such an endpoint, using SecureDrop (or similar software):

SecureDrop is an open source whistleblower submission system that media organisations and NGOs can install to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. It was originally created by the late Aaron Swartz and is now managed by Freedom of the Press Foundation. SecureDrop is available in 20 languages (securedrop.org)

Alternatively, you may choose to leaks your information to several UK media organisations operating a SecureDrop endpoint of their own:

If may also consider reporting to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is:

The conduct regulator for nearly 60,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK and the prudential supervisor for 49,000 firms, setting specific standards for 19,000 firms.

Professional Services

You might be entitled to legal support from your union, employer or a charity. Additionally, you may acquire legal aid and other forms of professional services to help manage your case.

This list of links is not meant to be comprehensive, neither it provides any testament as to the quality or fidelity of the mentioned services:

Published Statistics

The FCA maintains a discourse log, where past FOI requests are provided for the benefit of the public. A entry dated March/2020 may provide some initial statistics as to whistleblowing claims posted to the FCA:

A study by the University of Greenwich titled “Whistleblowing: The Inside Story— A study of the experiences of 1,000 whistleblowers” contains additional statistics:

Read & Listen

You may want to read books written by past whistleblowers, or listen to a relevant episode by the podcast DarkNet Diaries:

Good Luck!

Enjoy this song for now. Have a think. Educate yourself. Act wisely.

Furlough Fraud, Whistleblowing, DarkWeb, Data Journalism, #Birmingham (researcher/journalist)