By Minh Alexander and Clare Sardari @SardariClare, NHS whistleblowers, 18 May 2018
Whistleblowers speak up to protect other people’s rights and to prevent harm to the public.
It is up to parliament to pass good enough law to protect UK whistleblowers, and ensure that they are not silenced or victimised.
The current law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, has been in place for twenty years. It has failed to effectively protect whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are united in calling for the current law to be replaced
There many reasons why current whistleblowing law does not work, but here are three key changes that whistleblowers are asking for:
If a better law is passed, it should help discourage mistreatment of whistleblowers. This would help reduce the need for costly legal action, which in many cases involves a waste of public money by employers who try to cover up.
This is some of the campaign work that is taking place, and some more reasons why whistleblowers are asking for the law to be improved:
This a short summary by the European Centre for Whistleblower Rights of an extensive report by Blueprint for Free Speech, which shows how UK whistleblowing law has fallen behind that in other countries:
If you would like to help to protect whistleblowers, please take a few minutes to look at the following brief letter. If you agree, please email a copy to your member of parliament.
You can search for your MP by following this link: Find My MP
A Word version of the letter can be downloaded here.
Please copy your letter to the UK Law Commission, which is responsible for conducting reviews of flawed law. The Commission’s email address is email address firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d love to know how you get on. It would be great if you could drop us a line through the contact page on this website.
Minh Alexander and Clare Sardari, NHS whistleblowers
|LETTER TO MPs:
Dear [INSERT MP’s NAME],
I write to ask if you will kindly support the introduction of better legislation to protect UK whistleblowers.
The current legislation, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) has failed to protect countless UK whistleblowers when they have protected others by bringing wrongdoing to light.
All that PIDA does is allow workers to sue for compensation after they have been seriously harmed as a result of whistleblowing. For example, if they are unfairly dismissed. That is too little too late, and most whistleblowers are unsuccessful when they attempt legal action under PIDA, because the Act is so weak and poorly written.
Our society should make it easier for citizens to act in the public interest without fear of victimisation. Whether it is about ensuring safer care in our hospitals, protecting vulnerable older people from abuse in care homes, exposing fraud or any other risks to the public, whistleblowers must be allowed to speak up. Many scandals would be hidden if were not for the actions of whistleblowers. They are essential to democracy.
For a fairer, more open society I ask you to support replacement of PIDA. Any new legislation should:
1) Make it compulsory for whistleblower’s concerns to be investigated
2) Ensure that there is a legal duty by employers and regulators to protect whistleblowers from the point at which they whistleblow
3) Include meaningful penalties for individuals who victimise whistleblowers, including criminal sanctions for serious reprisal.
I would be grateful if you would raise this matter with the government by writing to the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to champion the case for reforming UK whistleblowing law.
cc Law Commission email@example.com
UPDATE 18 AUGUST 2020
We have set up a Westminster petition to call for repeal of PIDA and its replacement with much better law to protect whistleblowers and the public:
Please sign and share if you agree that cover ups must be firmly discouraged and harm should be prevented.