Whistleblowers UK (WBUK) is an organisation set up by whistleblowers and their supporters to provide advice and support to those who are considering acting on their conscience. Many of those with the courage to speak out have experienced great personal difficulties while exposing cruelty, injustice or corruption. Whistleblowers UK will provide a network of support, legal advice and other services needed by those who have had the courage to speak out and do the right thing. Crucially, it will also offer experientially based advice to those considering what course to take.
The event was chaired by Michael Seifert, a solicitor with Simons, Muirhead & Burton and with whistleblowers Eileen Chubb and Ian Foxley.
Michael Seifert spoke of his close involvement with whistleblowing law and practice over the last few decades. “Whistleblowing is an absolutely essential component of our democratic society and the present protection for whistleblowers must be increased to include legal protection for all whistleblowers against retribution and victimisation. The experiences of Eileen and Ian together with many other whistleblowers, dramatically bears this out”.
Eileen Chubb is a former care home worker who lost her job on reporting abuse she witnessed in the care home she was working in. She explained: “I was doing what I thought was right. At the time I didn’t even know what a whistleblower was.” She, along with colleagues who also reported what they had seen, came to be known as the ‘BUPA 7’.
Eileen spoke of her experience and her desire to support other whistleblowers who find themselves in a similar situation that she was in. Since then she has helped hundreds of whistleblowers not only from the health sector but across the board through her own charity Compassion in Care.
The second presentation was given by Ian Foxley who is the inaugural Chairman of Whistleblowers UK and a former lieutenant colonel who exposed corruption when working in Saudi Arabia. He too lost his job and was threatened with immediate arrest and jail in Saudi Arabia.
His claim for constructive dismissal was ruled inadmissible because he was working as an expatriate outside of UK court jurisdiction, despite the whistleblowing declaration being a protected disclosure under PIDA. He explained that his case highlighted the inadequacies in current employment law and the need for legislative change.
“Potential whistleblowers need an immediate and easily accessible source of experience-based support and advice to ensure that they can expose wrongdoing, but remain protected against retribution and victimisation” he said. “Too often we see brave individuals acting on their conscience, demonised by corporate organisations more worried about their reputations and share price than about doing the right thing - it’s time for that to change.”
Several other whistleblowers were present and Annie Machon, an MI5 whistleblower, spoke briefly of her experience and why a support organisation like Whistleblowers UK is so badly needed. "All too often whistleblowers are persecuted rather than protected."
The floor was then opened up to questions and a lively debate followed with many whistleblowers in the audience coming forward to share their own experiences, and stress the importance of, and need for, an organisation like WBUK.
About Whistleblowers UK
The purpose of Whistleblowers UK is to champion the importance, and critical role of whistleblowers in a democracy. The organisation is composed of whistleblowers from every walk of life, their immediate supporters and those considering alerting the public to issues of public importance.
The work of WBUK is supported by voluntary help from the staff at the Centre for Investigative Journalism at City University, including CIJ’s founder director, Gavin MacFadyen.
We are very grateful for this support, as well as the invaluable assistance of our pro bono lawyers at Powell Spencer and Partners Solicitors, Simons Muirhead and Burton Law and our pro bono Honorary Consultant Psychotherapist, Dr David Morgan.
Whistleblowers UK (WBUK) was set up thanks to seed funding from Stichting Democratie en Media, a not-for-profit organisation based in the Netherlands.
Without the help of these supporters, Whistleblowers UK would not be possible.
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