By Dr Minh Alexander and Clare Sardari @SardariClare , 19 March 2018
Today, the government announced legislation that was three years behind schedule, to outlaw blacklisting of NHS whistleblowers, as if it was a triumph.
The government is happy to allow whistleblowers this tiny crumb because it poses very little threat to power. It will hardly concern employers. Few cases will succeed, and large institutions are happy to pay compensation to rid themselves of whistleblowers.
What is needed is fundamental reform of UK whistleblowing law to deter reprisals much more effectively, and to prevent whistleblowers from being persecuted and sacked in the first place.
We also reported that she agreed in principle to support an event led by whistleblowers, but that this proved to have strings attached. When we submitted a proposal to lead an event on reform of ineffective UK whistleblowing law with expert speakers, her comms manager intervened. His correspondence suggested that law reform was a banned topic, and intimated that we would be on our own if we would be so naughty as to pursue our interest in law reform.
Since then, we have offered the National Guardian repeated opportunities to set matters straight, and to distance herself from such a position.
The central question put to her was:
“May we clarify if this is saying that your office will support us in running an event, but not if we seek to focus on law reform, as we have suggested?”
We have made our boundaries clear:
“We would rather not lead an event if law reform is a banned topic.”
We have not received a straight answer.
Instead, the National Guardian’s spin doctor has twice intervened again.
He has continued to claim, incorrectly in our view, that the National Guardian has no remit for pursuing law reform.
The National Guardian will not say in black and white if she shares his view.
Arising from these exchanges, we conclude that the National Guardian is not prepared to support an event on law reform, and in doing so she will not allow expert evidence in support of law reform a fair hearing.
Her failure to listen to all the requests for law reform from whistleblowers on her own advisory group illustrates everything that is insincere about the government’s Freedom To Speak Up project.
This is the full correspondence to date with the National Guardian and her office:
The government’s and its organs’ continuing blockade of genuine, effective whistleblowing law reform means that cover ups will continue unhindered, and that patients and whistleblowers will continue to be harmed.