NHS Apology Given To West London Mental Health Whistleblower

The most prominent mental health trust in the UK has been forced to admit wrongdoing over its treatment of a whistleblower who spoke out over alleged bullying and harassment occurring at the trust. The NHS has now acknowledged that Dr Hayley Dare’s claims were made in good faith and in the interest of the public.

 

Dr Dare spoke out about a culture of bullying and harassment occurring at 32 institutions currently operated by the West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which includes locations such as Broadmoor high-security hospital. The claims were rejected and even mocked by NHS bosses when Dr Dare first made her claims in 2013.

 

During a conversation with trust officials, Dr Dare was referred to as a “very disturbed woman” by chief executive Mr Steve Shrubb, who then made unflattering comparisons between the doctor and his own ex-wife in a verbal tirade designed to undermine her credibility both personally and professionally. During the recent tribunal Mr Shrubb apologised for his comments.
The NHS spent a total of £130,000 during its effort to refute the claim even though the organisation admitted it has numerous bullying and harassment issues existing at its facilities around the UK.

 

Official NHS staff surveys released in 2012 and 2013 clearly show that out of the 51 NHS mental health trusts, the West London Mental Health NHS Trust has by far the poorest records in regards to violence happening against staff due to0 the actions of both patients and colleagues.

 

This includes nearly a twelfth of all employees who experience a case of physical violence at the hands of a peer. Other results show that 30% of staff at the trust were bullied or harassed in some way during 2013, and that 26% of these cases include acts of discriminative behaviour.

 

Dr Dare originally lost her tribunal case in September 2014 as a result of a legal technicality that prevented her claims from being considered to have been made in in good faith. However, this technicality was removed from UK employment law since then.

 

Following the initial ruling the NHS sought to win back the costs it accrued during the legal process, which meant that Dr Dare would have been made to pay back as much as £100,000. However, this was prevented from becoming a reality when judge ruled this unfair at a second tribunal held shortly after the original ruling last year.

 

With the technicality now void the trust has been forced to admit that Dr Dare “made a disclosure in the public interest about the bullying and harassment of the staff of the [trust] and that this disclosure was made in good faith”.

 

The trust also paid Dr Dare £10,000 in reparation for the financial costs she paid during her legal struggle.

 

After the tribunal verdict Dr Dare spoke of her relief:

“I can’t quite express how overwhelmed I feel. This has always been about patient care and staff welfare, which is what whistleblowing should always be about. I never deviated from that so I feel exonerated at last. The trust has spent an obscene amount of taxpayers’ money fighting me. I never acted in bad faith and that was what the case was all about. This has always been about my integrity and the fact that I raised concerns about patient care as a clinician. If you bully staff, patient care will be affected.”

 

Dr Dare also expressed hope that the result of this case could help other employees gain the confidence to speak out about NHS corruption. With 3,160 staff currently working in the West London Mental Health NHS Trust, and with approximately 700,000 patients being cared for, there is concern that there are many other cases of bullying and harassment being overlooked.

 

Despite the trust acknowledging Dr Dare’ made her claim in good faith, the organisation did not give a full apology and pointed out that there are a “number of ways in which staff can raise concerns safely” which she should have undertaken before launching an external legal evaluation.

Homosexual Priest Loses Sexuality Discrimination Claim

A gay clergyman who claims he was denied the right to become a hospital chaplain after marrying his lover has lost a discrimination case against the Church of England. Canon Jeremy Pemberton claims that in addition to being denied career opportunities he was also harassed by his bishop, Richward Inwood, due to his personal dislike of homosexuality rather than acting on behalf of the Church of England as claimed.

Canon Pemberton believes that such treatment was in breach of his human rights and violates the UK 2010 Equality Act that grants him the right to officiate as a priest and possess a licence for chaplaincy; a qualification that would have allowed him to work as a bereavement manager at Sherwood NHS.

At tribunal, bishop Inwood, who is the incumbent bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, denied discriminating against Canon Pemberton on personal grounds and stated he was acting in accordance with church doctrine that forbids same-sex marriage.

Tribunal verdict

The Nottingham employment tribunal ruled in favour of bishop Inwood and has supported his decision on grounds that there are a number of alternative options available which would allow Canon Pemberton’s relationship with his partner, Mr Lawrence Cunnington, to be officially recognised by the Church of England, such as entering into a civil partnership.

Canon Pemberton’s legal team dismissed these options by arguing that such alternatives do not prevent discrimination, as they still deny Canon Pemberton and his partner the right to a conventional marriage; a union the two believe should be made available to them as it would any heterosexual couple.

During the tribunal proceedings the judge heard how Canon Pemberton had previously been married to a woman with whom he travelled with while working as a priest. It was revealed that Pemberton did not recognise his true sexuality until 2006 after he suffered a mental breakdown before divorcing his wife and resigning his position at his ministry.

By 2008 Canon Pemberton was in an openly homosexual relationship with his future husband. During that same year he swore the oath of canonical obedience to his bishop and became a licensed community chaplain in the Southwell and Nottingham diocese.

Verdict reactions

Reacting to the verdict, Canon Pemberton stated “We are obviously very disappointed. Our lawyers have considered the judgement and are in the process of preparing the grounds of appeal for submission to the Employment Appeal Tribunal”. He also expressed gratitude to the public who have shown support for his case throughout the proceedings.

The tribunal verdict was well received by the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. A spokesman for the organisation released a statement:

“We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the Right Rev Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him. We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers […] We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality”

UK Government Demands Change On Recruitment Racism

Labour market discrimination has long been a serious issue throughout UK employment law, but a newly established government scheme is now challenging this thanks to a rule that no longer necessitates students include their name(s) on applications they make for either employment or educational positions. The intention of this is to eradicate the likelihood of employers making a social and/or cultural assumption about the candidate based on their name(s).

This new application process, known as a “name-blind” policy, is fully endorsed by the Tory government and will also mean that a potential employer will not not be privy to the candidate’s name until they are shortlisted for an interview.

The organisations actively lending their support to this new approach are responsible for the combined employment of 1.8m people in Britain, across both private and public sectors. These are some of the most recognisable names in the country, such as the NHS, the BBC and the Civil Service. Even many well-known privatised companies like Teach First, KPMG, HSBC and Virgin Money have voiced their support.

The use of name-blind applications has support from many leading scholars too. Vikki Boliver, a senior sociology lecturer at Durham University, conducted a recent investigation into the applications of several leading UK universities on behalf of the Russell Group and noted that from 2010-12 only 36% of applicants of ethnic origin received a university place compared to 55% of white candidates. Bolivier believes that name-blind applications “may help some” but that the change is “definitely not a solution” to some of the biases that recruiters hold.

Employer preference for employees with white sounding names is not a UK only issue, as recent French employment law studies show that applicants with foreign names are less likely to receive a response from an employer in France.

How did name-blind applications begin?

Changing the process of revealing applicant names began in 2009 when a government report concluded that UK employers place emphasis on arranging interviews with candidates with a western name despite other applicants showing the same level of skill and experience.

David Cameron recently explained that UK university admissions service, UCAS, is to embrace the name-blind application process beginning in 2017. This announcement comes in spite of UCAS’s own independent research which they claim found no evidence that a bias against ethnic names existed in their application process.

At a recent speech in Manchester the PM outlined the government’s stance on why name-blind applications are needed: “You send out your CV far and wide but you get rejection after rejection — what’s wrong?” “It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience. It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname.”

This emphasis on tackling discrimination at work is part of recent Tory intentions to alter the public perception of the party’s attitude towards race following criticism that the government’s attitude to Islamic extremism has led to some Muslims being unfairly investigated.

Could this lead to further changes?

Once the name-blind policy is enforced there could be further changes made in the form of applications that no longer require information on applicant gender. The ongoing controversy over the gender pay gap between men and women provides strong justification for enforcing this.

There is an average 9% pay gap in Britain regarding the gender earnings of employees aged over 40, although the gap for younger employees is falling. These figures come amid new legislation requiring large companies to release details on the bonuses paid to their male and female employees.

FCA Announces Major New Whistleblowing Policies For Financial Sector

Recent announcements made by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) have revealed big changes are ahead for how whisteblowing is dealt with within the financial industry.

The key change introduced by the FCA involves lenders and insurers will now being monitored by financial industry watchdogs who they must report to with information on any case they face that involves whistleblowing.

This method has the purpose of assisting whistleblowers with the difficult task of speaking out against employers while acting as a reminder to the major banks that the FCA is going to get tougher on the wide-scale industry corruption of recent years, such as Barclays’ effort to alter Libor Rates in 2012; a move that resulted in a swift fine of £290 million for the bank.

However, the FCA have been keen to point out that the recently announced changes are not intended to punish the banking sector, but to instead “build on and formalise the good practice already widespread in the financial services industry”.

This new whistleblowing legislation will also call for individual companies throughout the financial sector to appoint a “whistleblowing champion”; an official who will encourage employees to come forward with any issue they feel strongly about without fear of reprisal from their employers.

These new changes are due to come into effect in September 2016, and all businesses within the financial sector must alter their whistleblowing policies in accordance with these rules before that date. The new policies will apply to banks, deposit-takers, building societies and credit unions with assets greater than £250m. All insurers legally bound by the Solvency II directive will also have to comply to the new rules.

Since the recent announcement of new whistleblowing legislation there has been some speculation that the FCA is likely to soon introduce a further policy that will grant employees the chance to be paid for the whistleblowing information they provide at tribunals.

Such financial reward is already a long-held custom in the United States where the Securities and Exchange Commission provides financial compensation for any claim that results in a successful legal result against a business. This has often been known to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of financial aid for the claimant.

Yearly whistleblowing reports

As part of a joint statement recently issued, the FCA and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority announced that all companies affected by the changes will need to draft an annual whistleblowing report for the benefit of the company boards concerned, with a senior management official present to ensure that all actions are made in accordance with the new legislation.

Financial industry regulators have recently again voiced their support for whisteblowing laws by announcing they will do more to make UK employees aware of their rights in regards to existing whisteblowing laws. Whistleblowers have always been an integral part of revealing dishonest actions within UK employment.

An increase In whistleblowing cases

The FCA’s changes have been issued during a period when whistleblowing claims have risen sharply across all areas of the UK financial sector. During 2014/15 a total of 1,240 whistleblowing disclosures were recorded within the financial sector; a 28% increase over 2013/14 results when 1,040 claims were made. When these figures are compared to the results of 2007/08, when just 138 claims were recorded, the sheer significance of this rise becomes apparent.

 

Lloyds Trader Claims He Was Fired For Whistleblowing

A tribunal case involving alleged unfair dismissal due to whistleblowing is underway against Lloyds Banking Group.

Former foreign trader, Paul Carlier, has accused the bank of forcing him into redundancy after he publicly revealed details of a currency trade with Tesco supermarket.

Speaking at the recent London employment tribunal, Mr Carlier claimed he was dismissed from his £175,000 a year job as a result of having made several protected disclosures in which he “challenged the business over various practices”.

Mr Carlier is representing himself at the tribunal where he expressed a belief that his actions of September 2014 were a direct cause of receiving unfair treatment from Anders Henrikson, the head of foreign exchange product at Lloyds.

This was refuted by Mr Henrikson who told the tribunal that Mr Carlier’s dismissal was actually the result of him not reaching agreed business targets. Carlier made £557,000 for Lloyds but ultimately fell short of the £1.7 million he was expected to generate.

While being cross examined Mr Henrikson created an unflattering image of Mr Carlier by claiming that the bank had received offensive emails from the banker which were “frequently offensive in tone and content”. These emails, which were sent after Carlier learned of his dismissal, are so explicit in content that they were initially blocked by Lloyd’s firewall security system.

Mr Carlier’s reputation was also questioned at the tribunal after evidence showed he had a number of county court judgements against him at the time of his being hired by the bank in 2011.

Mr Henrikson also dismissed the idea that Mr Carlier was a whistleblower experiencing persecution, stating that the former banker’s actions while working for Lloyds were far from damning and actually constitute standard criticism within the banking sector: “Paul was vocal in expressing his opinions on the spot [foreign exchange] desk but I did not regard him as a whistleblower”.

Carlier has not yet given evidence at the ongoing tribunal but is likely to reject all the claims against him.

A Lloyds spokesperson released a statement clarifying the bank’s current position on this case; “As the employment tribunal is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment in detail, other than to say that the allegations are without merit and we are defending them vigorously.”

The hearing will continue at a later date.

Lloyds has been at the centre of several legal controversies in recent years. In 2014 the bank suspended seven employees following a court ruling which forced it to pay £226m for being involved in a case of UK interest rate rigging.

Why Is The UN Covering Up Whistleblower Claims of Crime?

A recent report concerning the ostracising of a former United Nations worker who reported the rape of a refugee in Sri Lanka is just one of many recent legal controversies to hit the UN.

Ms Caroline Hunt-Matthes has been involved in a decade long legal struggle against UN officials on grounds that her disclosure about the refugee resulted in her sudden dismissal from her position while on a period of planned leave.

Ms Hunt-Matthes has explained her concerns regarding the UN’s treatment of whistleblowers: “The bottom line is the UN is not a safe working environment at the minute. You can’t report misconduct and be protected”.

UN ethics in response to employee complaints was recently the subject of a study by the Government Accountability Project (GAP). The study, conducted in July 2014, found that a total of 447 separate complaints were issued by UN employees due to concerns about how they were treated by the UN after speaking out.

For this study, GAP examined 135 of the 447 cases and concluded that at least fourteen of the claims were genuine and resulted in negative treatment towards the whistleblower by the UN.

This shockingly high number of claims was criticised by GAP’s International Director, Bea Edwards, who claimed the number of whistleblowers receiving efficient support from the UN is “abysmally low”. She explained that the GAP now plans to assess many other recent cases of whistleblower discrimination which were not dealt with efficiently.

Other recent accusations concerning corruption within the UN has involved incidents of violence perpetrated by soldiers while on peacekeeping missions. This includes acts of rape and exploitation that sometimes involve children.

One shocking case comes from a report issued by Amnesty International. It details the killing of a 16-year-old boy and the rape of a 12-year-old girl by peacekeepers from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission while on a Central African Republic peacekeeping mission.

The report alleges that the primary reason that actions like those of this case were covered up is because the countries involved in such crimes want to hide the behaviour of their soldiers from the rest of the world.

There is an implied threat from some nations that if their soldiers are named the country will pull its troops out of UN peacekeeping missions, thus depleting the status of the UN as a global military alliance.

Numerous horrific claims of violence by UN soldiers has led to much criticism of the UN, and has moved the organisation’s secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, to announce that any nation whose soldiers have been found to have committed crimes like these will have their troops put on trial.

He also stated that the UN’s preventing sexual violence at the hands of peacekeepers was “a number one priority” and international observers that these recent cases have not been ignored.

Whistleblowing Surgeon Claims Unfair Dismissal

A top cancer specialist at Royal Marsden Hospital has claimed he was forced from his position following his writing of a series of articles that criticise the NHS. Joseph Meirion Thomas, 69, was told he had brought the institution into ‘disrepute’ and was abruptly dismissed.

He believes the article that resulted in the negative reaction was one that included his assertion that GPs in the UK do not offer personal services to patients or go out of their way to assist patients by working outside of their daily hours.

When this article was published in November 2014 it provoked a negative reaction from doctors across Britain who condemned the claims as unprofessional and without truth. Royal Marsden Hospital has distanced itself from Dr Thomas, issuing a statement saying that the content of his articles reflect just his own ‘personal views’ and are not based on sound evidence, thereby making him to blame for constituting a ‘misrepresentation of the facts’.

Dr Thomas also believes that in response to the article a large umber of GPs contacted the chief executive at Royal Marsden Hospital making threats to end the referral of their patients to the hospital if the doctor was not punished. The result of this was that Dr Thomas found himself required to sign a document stating he would no longer publish such articles.

He refused to sign and was subsequently dismissed from his position at the hospital in March 2015.

Explaining his position Dr Thomas wrote about his experience via a number of recent posts for The Spectator. In one of these pieces he explained:

For speaking frankly about the NHS, I was first silenced and then pushed out. My offence was considered unforgivable […] If the NHS can treat a senior cancer surgeon this way, what chance does a nurse or a junior doctor with grave concerns about the health service have?”

His efforts to negotiate a new contract with the hospital that would let him to stay employed on a part-time basis in order to complete a research project for skin cancer patients was denied. This caused Dr Thomas to query whether the hospital has his patients’ best interest at heart as the health of many patients would be jeopardised should the work not be completed at the expense of his punishment.

The doctor claims his whistleblowing went beyond affecting his position at the hospital. He states that his title of ‘professor’, given to him following his receiving an honorary award from Imperial College London, is no longer valid due to having expired; a rare decision to be imposed upon a leading surgeon.

Reaction by the hospital

The doctor’s experiences have led him to begin a discrimination claim against his former bosses. He is claiming to have been bullied and harassed due to his whistleblowing, which is an act protected under UK employment law legislation.

All claims made by Dr Thomas have been denied by the NHS Trust which states that the doctor’s claims are without merit due to no official disciplinary proceeding being taken against him.

The Trust also asserts there was no effort made to censor articles published by Dr Thomas, and that they simply requested he first share the content with them prior to publishing in order for them to assess his concerns while preparing for the public reaction.

Officials claim that the only response made by the Trust in regard to the doctor’s position at the hospital was to give him with a seven day period of paid leave after the articles were published so that he and the hospital could both respond to the heated reaction in an effective manner.

The Trust also protests Dr Thomas’ claim that he was refused permission to contact his patients so that he could explain the reason for his sudden absence to them in person.
The doctor’s suddenly leaving Royal Marsden Hospital is being explained by the Trust as being part of his agreed retirement plan, which they claim he has deliberately chosen not to acknowledge in his claims against the hospital.

A statement released by a spokesman for the Trust claims that Dr Thomas “He fails to disclose that a succession plan had been put in place with his involvement and support well in advance of his retirement date of March 2015 to ensure a smooth transition for patients .

Recent whistleblowing changes

The controversial departure of Dr Thomas comes just months after UK employment law legislation incorporated major reforms intended to highlight prejudice against whistleblowers, with the intention being to create a better working atmosphere in which whistleblowers can speak out without fear of reprisal.

Planned changes of this kind include UK organisations having to employ an official whose position will involve advising and protecting whistleblower concerns.

Ex-Kids Company Employee Whistleblows Over Alleged £10,000 Theft

Kids Company has experienced further problems this week due to an unidentified whistleblower making allegations about £10,000 of the charity’s money vanishing from the charity’s Urban Academy Centre branch in Southwark back in 2012.

The whistleblower claims the event was hushed up with no effort getting made to locate the missing money. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the whistleblower stated that although the police were called over the incident nothing came of the investigation. The money in question is believed to have been funded by both the public and through private donations.

The unidentified ex-employee also says that he and other staff at the Urban Academy Centre had suspicions over the behaviour of a certain supporter who was regarded as one of Kids Company’s ‘favoured clients’ because this person was present at the Southwark centre the day the money went missing. Explaining the situation the whistleblower remarked: “everyone knew it was him and nothing came of it”.

The whistleblower also claimed that the alleged money was just part of the ‘chaos’ that existed within the popular charity managed by founder Camila Batmanghelidjh. These claims are just the top of the iceberg for Kids’ Company which is facing a string of allegations ranging from donations being misspent to horrific acts of child abuse, exploitation and sexual offences occurring within the charity across the UK.

Ms Batmanghelidjh’s image as a leading figure in UK child care has been damaged substantially since the charity’s recent collapse. She has been widely derided by both the public and the press as rumours of her being complicit in the corruption continue to spread. Defending herself from blame, Ms Batmanghelidjh has accused “rumour-mongering civil servants, ill-spirited ministers and the media” for turning her into a scapegoat.

Ms Batmanghelidjh is also facing claims that she met with leading Tory party donor James Lupton to secure funds to keep Kids’ Company afloat once it became clear the charity was facing financial ruin. However, Lupton refutes any assertion that he was part of a decision to ignore the advice of civil servants and grant the charity a £3 million bail-out one week before its problems were made public on August 5th.

Kids Company has not yet issued a statement responding to the claims made by the unidentified whistleblower.

Exploring Public Concern at Work’s 2015 Whistleblowing Reports

The Public Concern at Work (PCaW) charity has published its 2015 YouGov survey into whistleblowing, along with a new report reviewing 1,000 of the cases that PcaW received via its Advice Line during 2014. The advice line was set up in 1993 to encourage workers speak up about workplace concerns, and to date it has aided the concerns of 18,000 whistleblowers.

The results of both reports reveal startling insights into how whistleblowers are viewed by the public and what the actual experience of whisteblowing feels like for the individual.

The representation of whistleblowing found by the 2015 YouGov survey:

PCaW’s YouGov report has revealed that 74% of workers in Britain regard the term ‘whistleblowing’ in either a positive or neutral light. This acts in contrast to the reality felt by many whistleblowers, who become alienated and ostracised by their co-workers and/or employers after speaking out.

The YouGov report also highlights that within the last two years 11% of UK workers have at some point felt concerned that corruption and/or malpractice has occurred in their place of work, and that they fear that this could potentially jeopardise their own lives or those of the general public.

Just 59% of the 11% who felt this way actually chose to bring their concern to an employer, which suggests that more needs to be done to create an environment in which UK workers feel safe enough to whistleblow.

A more positive statistic of the report is that out of all workers polled, 81% said they felt comfortable bringing up a whistleblowing concern to their employer if such a circumstance presented itself.

Other good news of the report is that 48% of workers said that they were aware of their employer having an active whistleblowing policy in place that would allow them to freely voice their concerns; a 6% rise over the poll results of 2013.

A more worrying statistic is that a massive 67% of workers do not know there are existing laws designed to protect whistleblowers from persecution, which again suggests more needs to be done by UK employers to ensure their workers are aware of the whistleblowing rights they hold.

The reality of whisteblowing found by the 2015 PCaW whistleblowing report

The whistleblowing report from PCaW is intended to get a closer look at the reality of whistleblowing by questioning those those directly involved in a case of whistleblowing. This report surveyed more than 2,000 working adults in Britain and reveals some very interesting statistics in regard to the relations that exist between employer and worker.

One serious area of concern remains employer refusal to acknowledge the authenticity of a whisteblowing case by choosing instead to either ignore or deny the claim. This remains high, being recorded in 52% of all cases. Although this figure is a positive 11% decrease over the same research of 2013,

Perhaps the most shocking statistic is that a massive 80% of whistleblowers experienced some form of backlash from their employer, which led to them either being unfairly dismissed or feeling forced into resigning their position. Cathy James, the Chief Executive of PCaW has derided this high percentage:

“It is unacceptable almost eight out of ten whistleblowers contacting our advice line suffer some sort of reprisal for raising a concern. It is clear much work must be done by organisations to inform, inspire and celebrate workers when it comes to whistleblowing.

Despite there begin as many as 80% of whistleblowers experiencing hostility for their actions, research also shows that 33% of whistleblowers actually felt their employer met their claim positively and were satisfied with how it was dealt with. This is an increase over the 26% recorded in 2013.

Cathy James has spoken of her charity’s reaction to the final report results:

“While the perception of whistleblowers in society is increasingly positive and when asked hypothetically our respondents thought they would to do the right thing, we are seeing that more staff are unwilling to speak up. This must, in part, be due to the lack of awareness around legal protection and the fact in reality whistleblowing is still a risky activity for a large number of our clients. Although the improvements we are seeing in the way that the concern is being handled are welcome, these findings must be interpreted in the broader context of how the whistleblower is being treated.

£230,000 Compensation Payout for Whistleblowing Nurse

A former nurse has won a huge compensation claim at an employment tribunal in Exeter.

Clare Sardari, 57, will receive £230,000 in damages from South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust after a judge agreed she was ‘bullied, threatened and intimidated’ by her superiors in an effort to prevent her whistleblowing about her boss Dr Paula Vasco-Knight’s decision to promote her own daughter’s boyfriend to the role of Diversity Manager without him having fairly obtained the position.

Ms Sardari made the whistleblowing claim alongside colleague, Penny Gates, 53. Together they took their concerns to senior employee, Adrienne Murphy, who responded that the pair should expect to lose their jobs ‘through dirty means’ if they did not stop asking questions.

The tribunal ruled that Ms Sardari was made to feel alienated for making the claim which led her to suffer detriment as a result. The actions of Dr Vasco-Knight also came under scrutiny at the tribunal as she was proven to have deliberately tried preventing the release of materials showing her wrongdoing. Although Dr Vasco-Knight denied all of these claims, she then abruptly resigned from her position at Torbay hospital in Devon shortly afterwards.

At the tribunal Dr Vasco-Knight claimed that Ms Sardari’s whisteblowing had all the hallmarks of a personal attack rather than an effort being made to correct a genuine wrong. In a statement she claimed “on a personal level I found the allegations as nothing less than personal slander and I wonder if a white middle-class male chief executive officer would have been treated with such disrespect.”

Ms Sardari left the Tribunal in tears following the ruling and refused to make any comment. Her colleague and fellow whistleblower, Mrs Gates, has returned to work at Torbay hospital under a separate settlement.

The tribunal ruling

Tribunal judge Nick Roper awarded Ms Saradi £228,000 in compensation; a figure that covers her back pay and pension benefits along with the legal costs and agreed damages she incurred.

The full amount will be paid by South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which Dr Vasco-Knight was the chief executive of before her resignation. Her peers at the Trust paid tribute to her by releasing a statement about her time with the organisation shortly after the ruling which said “considerable success was achieved during her tenure. It is unfortunate her achievements have been overshadowed by the tribunal judgement”.

Describing the ruling, tribunal judge Nick Roper explained:

“We find that there was a concerted effort by the South Devon Healthcare Trust to manipulate the investigation, accuse the claimants of malice, suppress the report and to mislead the other parties as to its contents, with the apparent aim of protecting Dr Vasco-Knight and Mrs Murphy against the force of the claimant’s allegations […] This was completely contrary to the protection which they should have been offered under the Whistleblowing guidelines.”