Replace weak UK whistleblowing law, and protect whistleblowers and the public

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Whistleblowers perform a vital public service and protect us all from harm. For example, whistleblowers provide valuable information about health and social care safety, transport safety, fraud, other crimes and many more hazards.

But at present British whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) is very weak and leaves whistleblowers, the public and the public purse unprotected.

This flawed law is sometimes even exploited by employers to silence, harm and intimidate whistleblowers. The law allows injustice due to gross legal inequality of arms between whistleblowers and their employers.

The Government should reform UK whistleblowing law and level the playing field. The most important changes to the law would be to:

  • Require disclosures be acted upon and whistleblowers protected
  • Provide criminal and civil penalties for organisations and individuals failing to do so
  • Establish a fully independent parliamentary body on whistleblowing, and provide easy access to redress.

Current law does not even compel anyone to protect whistleblowers. It gives scant attention to whistleblowers’ concerns. It does not ensure that their disclosures are investigated nor the correction of wrongdoing and harm. It does not prevent cover ups.

Instead, the law currently focuses wrongly on secondary employment disputes. This can lead to wasteful, destructive litigation, with the costs ultimately falling to the public.

Despite generating costly litigation, the law gives inadequate redress after serious, irreparable harm to whistleblowers. Only 3% of whistleblowing cases succeed at hearing in the Employment Tribunal, because the law favours employers.

Whistleblowers may be left traumatised and financially ruined after being forced into litigation, and employers may drive up legal costs as a hostile tactic. The law has not been effective in deterring the intimidatory gagging of whistleblowers.

But whistleblowing is centrally a public safety and not an employment issue.

Whistleblowers should not be abandoned to lonely legal battles that they have limited chances of winning, and which ignore their safety concerns.

The law should be overhauled to reflect the public safety importance of whistleblowing and to make it much easier to speak up safely.

A new whistleblowing Bill by Dr Philippa Whitford MP proposes that whistleblowing law should be free standing and not confined to employment law. The Bill contains several good practice elements which can inform debate on replacing PIDA.

Please sign and share to help whistleblowers help us all.

Thank you for your time in looking at this petition.

More information about this vitally important issue can be found here:

https://minhalexander.com/2018/07/18/replacing-the-public-interest-disclosure-act-pida/

https://minhalexander.com/2020/08/17/a-new-uk-whistleblowing-bill-and-a-petition-to-the-uk-government-to-strengthen-protection/