Go Whistle: An Unaccountable APPG

By Dr Minh Alexander NHS Whistleblower and former consultant psychiatrist 17 August 2019

The Whistleblowing APPG is compromised by its history, its associations and its sponsorship.

 

 

Previous blog posts about the APPG:

Whistleblowing v Bounty hunting. A new whistleblowing APPG with sponsorship from bounty hunters

Whistleblowing APPG: Whistleblowers UK and questions about funding by Constantine Cannon LLP

 

 

Money is arguably at the APPG’s heart, the opposite to what drives genuine whistleblowers who risk all in the public interest.

The APPG backscratches with those who would make money from whistleblowers, with a few carefully chosen, sharp elbowed celebrity whistleblowers, often those interested in money, and with those who are not even whistleblowers but seemingly happy to be represented as whistleblowers.

In July, the APPG launched its first report, a rambling and poorly evidenced affair, which when read with an experienced eye was focussed on opening up the UK market for the APPG’s main sponsor, US bounty hunting lawyers Constantine Cannon.

 

The APPG report’s key recommendations were:

 

  1. To designate all UK citizens as potential whistleblowers qualifying for protection (mirroring the US model of deputising all who report fraud/ financial misconduct against the government, in order to get a cut of money recovered)

 

  1. To establish an Office for the Whistleblower, mirroring the US Office of the Whistleblower, which deals with financial misconduct and recovers money for the US government, rewarding only a few whistleblowers whose disclosures lead to the biggest bonanzas.

 

The US bounty hunting model is in fact ruthlessly exploitative, and operates as a type of Hunger Games that it is more interested in the protection of property than people, and leaves many genuine whistleblowers in the cold.

The APPG’s influential members orchestrated an inevitable news splash  about creating an ‘independent’ Office to protect whistleblowers.

It seems not many journalists could bear to trudge through the APPG report, or else they would have discovered a landmine laid for whistleblowers in the small print: the APPG proposed that the ‘independent’ Office should be under government control and located in either the Home Office or the Ministry of Justice:

Page 47 The new Office for the Whistleblower could be accommodated within the Home Office or the Ministry of Justice”

That is, two of the most oppressive and worst possible government departments to entrust with a tender new whistleblowing agency.

It was a deeply cynical proposal by the seasoned politicians on the APPG.

 

 

The Ministry of Justice victimises its own whistleblowers

To illustrate the preposterousness of locating a Whistleblowing Office in the Ministry of Justice, this is the recent case of Kathryn Hopkins, Ministry of Justice whistleblower who raised justified concerns about the ineffectiveness of the national Sex Offender Treatment Programme, but was ignored for several years:

“Fears about sex crime treatment were ignored”

During Kathryn Hopkins’ Employment Tribunal case  the MoJ even tried to deny that she had made disclosures to a nominated whistleblowing officer, but the Tribunal chose to believe the whistleblower:

97.The respondent does not accept that the claimant said the following to Ms Lloyd, which comprise the protected disclosures 6g-6l:

97.1. That there had never been any robust evidence that the SOPT worked and that oft-repeated claims of efficacy had been made based on little or no evidence. [PID 6g]

97.2. That the research should have been published immediately after the peer review in 2012. [PID 6h]

 97.3. That sexual offences committed since February 2012 may have been prevented if the SOTP had been halted in February 2012. [PID 6i]

97.4. That NOMS and CSAAP were covering up the research by subjecting it to continuing and invalid criticism. [PID 6j]

97.5. That the claimant was being bullied in order to stop her from pursuing the publication of the research. [PID 6k]

97.6. That there was a serious breach of research ethics by reason of the endless running and re-running of the research results which was done in order to try and reverse or minimise the findings which was part of the cover-up. [PID l]

Nevertheless, we find on the balance of probabilities that the claimant did make these extra observations to Ms Lloyd. They are consistent with what she was repeatedly saying to everyone. Although Ms Lloyd does not specifically remember the claimant saying those things, the claimant does remember. Given the overwhelming amount of detail with which the claimant was more familiar than Ms Lloyd, we think on balance the claimant’s memory is more likely to be reliable on this point.”

 

 

There is a lot of concern in the small, specialist world of whistleblowing governance about the direction of this APPG.

In the last two months I have written to the APPG to:

 

  1. Ask for information about contributions from a new APPG sponsor, NAVEX Global

 

  1. Ask for clarification about anomalous statements about the APPG secretariat’s (Whistleblowers UK) charitable status and services sold by the secretariat

 

  1. Raise concern about a serious factual error in the APPG’s report which may harmfully mislead NHS workers

 

  1. Ask for substantiating evidence regarding some of the APPG’s report recommendations.

 

I have not received a substantive response about the sponsorship by NAVEX Global, and no response at all regarding the other matters.

I have now asked the Registrar of Members’ Interests if they could establish whether the support provided by NAVEX Global reaches the threshold for declaration in the APPG register, because the APPG has not so far declared any details in the official register.

 

APPGs of course have no official status whatsoever.

But they comprise peers and elected officials, so one would hope for a modicum of transparency and accountability. Absence of such is revealing.

This is my correspondence with the APPG and the Registrar:

Correspondence with Whistleblowing APPG and Registrar of Members Interests July and August 2019

 

RELATED ITEMS

Whistleblowing in Whitehall: Civil Servants’ Complaints about Breaches of the Civil Service Code since 2014

This data emphasises that whistleblowing governance cannot be safely left under the control of government departments.

Bundles of $100 dollars

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