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Monday, February 13, 2017

Clamping down on whistleblowers

Since the Clive Ponting trial many politicians have been focussed on seeking to protect whistleblowers, that rare breed of mostly public sector employees who go public about abuses within their workplace in the public interest.

Legislation has been passed to protect whistleblowers because it has been understood that dealing with abuses and other issues in an open and accountable way leads to more efficient governance.

Nevertheless, this legislation has proved largely ineffective as employers have found many ways to circumvent it, not least in disputing whether the published information amounts to whistleblowing in the first place as opposed to a breach of trust.

Now, it seems that the current UK Government is to start to reverse the trend. According to the Guardian, they are proposing to launch a “full-frontal attack” on whistleblowers over proposals to radically increase prison sentences for revealing state secrets and prosecute journalists:

Draft recommendations from the legal advisers say the maximum prison sentence for leakers should be raised, potentially from two to 14 years, and the definition of espionage should be expanded to include obtaining sensitive information, as well as passing it on.

The moves have prompted concern from whistleblowers that draconian punishments could further discourage officials from coming forward in the public interest. One critic said the changes were “squarely aimed at the Guardian and Edward Snowden”.

This proposed legislation is well worth watching. Government ministers and senior management in the civil service often have a different definition of what is in the public interest to others. Their rationale is more often, self-interest.

It is important that in seeking to protect state secrets the Government does not drive out whistleblowing as a means of identifying inefficiencies and abuse within our public services.
this is yet another push towards a police state, KGB style society and must be fought.. Whistleblowers in the NHS should be protected. If a member of your family died through a medical error which you found out through whistleblowing you could help others to not get into the same position. These proposals can allow 'errors' to continue forever. Whistleblowers are needed in all areas of society Including exposing the farce of Brexit negotiations.
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