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.”

Whistleblower at Edinburgh Care Home Receives Praise

Scottish parliamentary member Cameron Buchanan has praised an Edinburgh whistleblower who recently revealed the shocking conditions that exist at a top care home in the city.

Buchannan said the individual had ‘shown courage’ in coming forward and that there will now be a full investigation into the situation which involved the abuse of many of the home’s 53 residents, explaining: “While abuse in care homes is not prevalent, it is more common than people think and if there is any truth in these allegations, it would be very disturbing.”

As of yet no workers have been charged with a crime but the evidence involved is said to strongly support a case for abuse.

Managers from Four Seasons Health Care, the organisation that owns Colinton facility through the subsidiary firm Brighterkind, are assisting police with their enquiries. The owners have also expressed support for the whistleblower and are pleased that it was they who passed on the whistleblower’s concerns to the appropriate authorities as part of their “active whistleblowing policy”, which they encourage at all the 350 care homes they manage around the UK.

Colinton Care Home representative Charlotte Nicholds released a statement concerning the investigation:

The well-being of the people in our care is our priority and we have an active whistle-blowing policy that encourages our residents, relatives and staff to raise any concerns they may have about any aspect of care and these are always followed up and referred to relevant authorities as appropriate so that they may be investigated in a thorough and transparent way”.

Colinton Care Home is no stranger to controversy. In may 2007 nurse Jeffrey Ednalan, 34, received a fifteen month jails sentence for abusing patients at the home. This abuse included two counts of indecent assault and involved an occasion in which placed a deodorant can in the mouth of a 95 year old man prevent him from shouting.

The freedom to Whistleblow at Scottish NHS facilities has been placed under scrutiny in the past, leading to a series of reform plans in 2014. This revision resulted in the introduction of “whistleblowing champions”; individuals whose job it will be to encourage potential whistleblowers with their concerns and assist them with speaking out.

This announcement was made shortly after a UK government report named Freedom to Speak Up (written by Sir Robert Francis) was issued. This report revealed the experiences several whistleblowers underwent, bringing to light a culture of intimidation within the NHS that resulted in whistleblowers being bullied and isolated from their peers after speaking out.

This report caused shockwaves in Scotland and moved Scotland’s Health Secretary, Shona Robison to remark that she wants all NHS staff to “have the confidence to speak up without fear” about patient safety.

NHS Nurse Was Bullied & Racially Harassed After Whistleblowing

A whistleblowing nurse recently brought her employers to an employment tribunal, seeking compensation for her suffering from stress related health problems due to being intimidated into resigning from her position.

The case dates back to when Ms Bernadette Rochford launched a whistleblowing case against the Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG); questioning the means by which NHS funding is sanctioned in regards to patient cases.

Ms Rochford made these claims once learning that no system exits to record the number of patients in receipt of financial help from the NHS. She noted this after she took on the position of Clinical Comm for Southwark PCT in April 2011.

Once Ms Rochford’s concerns came to light it became clear that the NHS was actually caring for some patients without reason. Shockingly this included ongoing financial support for patients who are now deceased. Based on her research Ms Rochford gave a “best guesstimate” that two thirds of deceased patients were still receiving financial aid.

Result of her whistleblowing

After speaking out Ms Rochford states that she became the target of bullying and racial harassment, which made her feel she had no choice but to resign from her position with Southwark CCG following a period of sick leave caused by her experiences.

During her sick leave, Ms Rochford was referred to fifteen separate councillors and health professionals, all of which agreed she was suffering serious stress related illness due to the treatment she experienced.

Ms Rochford’s claims of harassment and racial discrimination were initially dismissed at employment tribunal in October 2014; leading her to apply for a second hearing.

During her tribunal earlier this month, Ms Rochford claimed she felt like she was “walking on eggshells” at work due to the treatment from colleagues, and lambasted the lack of support she received from the NHS while complaining about the level of technical formalities required of her in order to demonstrate her feelings to NHS officials.

Defence against claims

Ms Rochford’s case was disputed by witness Alison Rayman, who worked with Ms Rochford as a HR consultant. Although Ms Rayman concurred that these claims had been slow in getting acknowledged, she believes much of the delay is due to Ms Rochford’s absence when on sick leave, as well as being due to the sheer number of people involved in the case

Ms Rochford’s claim of experiencing harassment and racial discrimination as a result of whisteblowing was rejected at an earlier tribunal in October 2014, causing her to request a second tribunal hearing this year.

Southwark CCG have disputed Ms Rochford’s statement that she received little support, stating that her grievances were “fully investigated at the time” and that “an independent investigation recognised that all issues were being addressed and effective systems were in place.”

This second tribunal in May 2015 lasted for five days and concluded before a decision could be made. The case will be now be reviewed on September 14th 2015.

Christian Nursery Worker Wins Tribunal Case Against Claims of Homophobia

A Christian nursery worker sacked by her employer for making negative comments about homosexuality and gay marriage has won an employment tribunal against her former employers for unfair dismissal.

In January 2014, Sarah Mbuyi, 31, was removed from her position at Newpark Childcare in Shepherd’s Bush, London on the grounds of gross misconduct. In this instance This followed Ms Mbuyi’s telling an openly gay colleague that her homosexual lifestyle and gay marriage act in contrast to the wishes of God.

The conversation begun after the colleague disputed the fact that she was refused the chance to marry her partner in a church ceremony due to Christian belief. Evoking EU laws on religious freedom, Ms Mbuyi’s employers made the decision dismiss her from her nursery position after receiving a complaint from the colleague

Ms Mbuyi, a Belgian citizen living in Tottenham, claims she was only responding to questions relating to the Christian stance on gay marriage and that she meant to no personal offence to the colleague who proposed these questions despite being aware of Ms Mbuyi’s beliefs and the related teachings of the bible.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) supported Ms Mbuyi throughout the tribunal, making claims that she was unfairly classed as having behaved in a discriminatory way due to her religious beliefs.

The tribunal verdict

The Watford tribunal ruled against the possibility that the managers at Newpark Childcare acted in a manner that discriminated against Christian views, but did consider that Ms Mbuyi was most likely dismissed from her job due to Newpark Childcare making “stereotypical assumptions about her beliefs”.

This was a sentiment supported by Ms Mbuyi, who agreed that it wasn’t a case of religious discrimination from her employer: She remarked “there were other Christians employed there, and there was never any campaign against them.”

The controversial ruling was justified by the tribunal on the grounds that censorship of Christian belief would cause a major impact on UK religious freedom, as a large amount of Christians hold the same views on homosexuality, and that many evangelical Christians actually believe their faith demands that they share such viewpoints.

Since the ruling a delighted Ms Mbuyi has spoken openly about the tribunal ruling and the support she has received in the process: “I only ever responded to questions that my colleague asked me […] I give glory to God for the decision and say ‘well done’ to the Christian Legal Centre. I hope that my previous employer and colleagues are well and will understand from this that my intention was for their best.”

Newpark Childcare have now defended their decision to dismiss Ms Mbuyi. Speaking to the Sunday Times,Tiffany Clutterbuck, a director of Newpark Childcare, asserts that the company was merely reacting in a way they deemed to be the most appropriate response to to the situation, claiming “We have robust policies and rules to ensure our nursery is inclusive and supportive for our children and staff, and we took the decision to dismiss Miss Mbuyi with a view to protecting that culture”.

What the Parliamentary Speech Means For Employment Law

The Queen’s parliamentary speech of May 2015 revealed a host of changes that the new Conservative government plan to put into action later this year under the guidance of Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Business.

Here is a low-down of the most significant proposed changes to be made to employment law.

Strike action laws

Striking actions are expected to soon require the approval of at least 50% of staff members who are eligible to protest over the issue being opposed.

Where a strike will affect the running of a public service, a number of additional challenges may also be implemented to prevent major disruption to both citizens’ lives and the country’s economy.

This will include public services like the health, transport, education and emergency service industries. Each of these industries will also require striking approval from at least 40% of its eligible union members.

A ban on agency workers?

Plans are also underway to put an end to the ban on employers hiring agency workers to fill the void in the workplace left when employees go on strike. This controversial decision has been defended by the new government with claims that it will supposedly “tackle the intimidation” felt by many workers who either choose not to strike or get cajoled into doing so by their peers.

There are also plans from the new government to reduce the amount of paid leave given to union representatives when undertaking union duties outside of working hours.

Zero hours contracts

Zero hours contracts have come under particular scrutiny, with the emphasis being placed on whether employees should be allowed to employ workers for exclusive employment with the business and without the possibility of contracted employment elsewhere. Bringing an end to the legislation allowing this was originally suggested in 2014 by the outgoing coalition government as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, which came into force on 2nd June 2015.

Altering zero hours contracts in this way has been welcomed by many workers, business owners and politicians, but has also been criticised by some legal representatives due to the an ill-defined criteria over what such a change will include.

This is due to a lack of clear legislation on how to prevent employers from deciding to reduce employee hours once they become aware a worker has a second job. There are also no set rules preventing an employer from then reducing or ending further working hours for that employee at their company.

Concern has also been expressed by some organisations over this lack of Zero Hour contract rules. The Unite union has expressed its worry that when workers are employed in more than one zero-hours position there will be no way to ensure that they can be sure of having at least one of their positions safe.

Furthermore, this new legislation will not guarantee a minimum number of working hours per week for employees, and that the generally negotiable nature of a zero-hours contract will be seized upon by employers hoping to adjust employment opportunities for workers.

Leave for paid volunteering

Another new area of legislation concerning employees of public sector businesses is that they will soon have the right to embark upon three days of paid volunteering work per year at the expense of their regular job should they wish to do so .

The chance to undertake voluntary work with a trade union is not allowed as part of this new right, but the opportunity to perform voluntary work for a political organisation is still being considered.

Gender pay law

One area of employment legislation that has finally been passed is that employers with a staff of 250 or more must now disclose the difference in pay between their male and female workers. The Conservatives refuted this idea when initially suggested by The Labour Party in 2010, but the Liberal Democrats finally granted it in what was ultimately one of their final acts as part of the coalition government earlier this year.

What We’ve Learned From The 2014 Public Concern At Work Report

Public Concern at Work (PCAW), the popular UK whistleblowing protection charity‘ has published its new report detailing the results of Employment Tribunal cases that took place between 2011-13.

PCAW provides a exploration of all employment tribunal activities, with particular emphasis placed on how tribunals have protected the rights of whistle-blowers in accordance with The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA); legislation that is vital for ensuring the safety of employees across different sectors of all UK industries.

Read on to learn of the outcome assessed by the report.

Details of the report

A total of 2,969 cases consisting of both full and preliminary hearings were evaluated. This analysis found that just 1,260 of these cases were final rulings granted after a full hearing was conducted.

Moreover, as few as 12% of these cases were actually successful on grounds that reflect the authority held by the PIDA. Other forms of evidence were responsible for a further 26% of the cases, and the remaining 62% consisted of either claimant losses or the case getting thrown out by the tribunal.

Positive outcomes

Whistleblowing cases were generally very successful between 2011-13, with a total of £7.3 million being awarded to claimants during this time. Although this figure is not close to the full amount provided in whistleblowing cases as the majority of them are settled before a tribunal is necessary.

PCAW findings also concluded that acts of whistleblowing are increasingly likely to be reported to parliament by officials employed across all areas of UK business. This suggests that employees now feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns without feeling anxiety over the consequences of whistleblowing.

Negative outcomes

There has unfortunately also been a number of negative results recorded by PCAW. One major concern is that 11% of all whisteblowing instances relate to scenarios in which an employer considers a employee to have acted in ‘bad faith’. This figure is considerably higher than the last PCAW assessment conducted in 2009.

Bad faith is a rebuttal that states the employee acted in a manner showing disregard for the overall welfare of the business, which if proven can refute a claim or overturn a tribunal verdict at a second hearing.

The increase in bad faith cases suggests employers are placing blame too readily on an employee’s motives rather than judging whether the claim is valid enough to bypass an individual’s concerns to be in the interest of the general public.

This kind of reaction from employers was at the heart of PCAW’s recent effort to encourage the government to remove the ‘Good Faith’ test from being part of employment law legislation, thereby eradicating the possibility of an employer claiming that an employee acted in bad faith as a result of whisteblowing. The effort has thus far been reasonably successful, as the law has been altered so that employers are now being actively encouraged to focus on the content of whisteblowing cases without expressing undue judgement on their intentions.

The report found that claims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace are the most frequent forms of complaint relating to whistleblowing cases.

Claimant issues

PCAW also outlined the serious concerns that many claimants have in regard to tribunals. One area of concern is that a massive 56% of claimants do not have legal representation when lauching their claim. This unsurprisingly makes them far less likely to be successful at tribunal.

This is a concern made much worse by a trend that shows an increase in the tribunal fees set for claimants, even though respondent fee claims are considerably lower. The PCAW report alleges that the difference in costs is being used as a sly way to deliberately discourage claimants from taking a claim to tribunal.

The result of tribunal fees

Since July 2013 claimants have been responsible for paying the bulk of tribunal fees, and it comes as no surprise that the PCAW report records a 20% drop in claims getting made since the change, with the total cost of all whistleblowing cases between now reaching £750 million.

Interim relief assessment

Interim Relief is a process that allows an employee to make a reinstatement claim if there is good reason to believe that a second hearing may result in the first ruling getting overturned. An Interim Relief application must be processed within seven days of the dismissal, and if successful, the Tribunal will issue a ‘continuation order’, instructing the employer to continue payment of the claimant’s wages up until the next tribunal ruling.

The report found that Interim Relief cases were responsible for 57 of the 2,969 claims, although just 7% of them actually ruled in favour of the claimant.

Whistleblowing claims across each sector

The report found that 66% of all whistleblowing cases that evoke The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 were made in the private sector. The health and care sectors are responsible for 21% of the overall number of cases brought before tribunal as the majority of whistleblowing actions are resolved independently before a tribunal hearing is required.

The education sector has also seen an increase in the overall number of whisteblowing claims made since 2009, rising from 5% to 7% of all cases recorded. The possible cause of this increase is the UK’s lack of a local governing authority that would monitor the increasing volume of academies and free schools located across Britain.

Additional results

Other important factors revealed by the PCAW report include the revelation that safety concerns account for 12% of all whistleblowing cases, and that claims of financial misconduct are responsible for 9%.

Another interesting revelation contained in the report is that 91% of whistleblowing cases find an employee raising their concerns in the place of employment before seeking legal action for whisteblowing. Although a surprising 81% of these worries are not made directly to an employer but to a different authority within the organisation.

Please be aware the PACW state that an all-inclusive legal review of all data contained in the report is not possible due to the lack of available access to an open register of claims.

Police Dog Handling Trio Claim Whistleblowing Discrimination

In an ongoing Whistleblowing case in Bristol, three female police-dog handlers have taken Avon and Somerset Police to tribunal with allegations that they were harassed by ‘sexist male colleagues’ following their decision to speak out about witnessing animal cruelty to police-dogs. This includes an alleged incident in which fellow police officer Paul Nesbit-Bell threw a dog against a wall.

The three women have made 95 claims against Avon and Somerset Police between them. Mandy Gornicki, 51, has said that she and her colleagues were ‘ostracised’ by their peers in the police force, and were verbally abused by male peers behind their backs on several occasions. A fourth female officer is also alleged to have been harassed but has declined to participate in any legal action.

Ms Gornicki’s fellow claimants Ann-Marie Williams and Erica Martins are due to express their views as the six week tribunal continues.

Hostile behaviour within the force

Ms Gornicki, who has eighteen years of policing experience, has claimed that it was the women’s act of whistleblowing that started a generally hostile attitude towards them, which involved a series of petty instances intended to make their working life difficult.

This includes an occasion in which Ms Gorkicki was deliberately given an inadequate dog kennel for a puppy she was training even though her male peers received brand new ones. Ms Gornicki says that instances like these were designed to cause her to fail in her job as a dog handler.

She also believes that she was deliberately given a dog with behavioural problems in order to hinder the speed of her overall performance and make her look incompetent in the process. The goal of such treatment was to ultimately dishearten her to the point of leaving the force.

Ms Gornicki also believes there is sufficient evidence to prove that she and her fellow whistleblowers were intentionally separated during training courses in order to prevent further instances of whistleblowing between them.

When cross examined during her tribunal hearing, Ms Gornicki faced accusations that she is exaggerating her testimony through amplified examples of treatment that was be no means exclusive to her.

Sexist Attitudes of male officers

Ms Gornicki also claims that sexist comments were slyly directed towards the three women. This includes an alleged occasion when chief inspector Paul Mogg suggested women were not able to match the skill of male officers during riot situations. This comment was likely directed at Ms Gornicki personally because she and Inspector Mogg had worked alongside each other during a riot in the recent past.

Sheold the tribunal that the sexism experienced by the three women also centred around hostility to animals in response to their whistleblowing as such cruelty would not have happened in the presence of male dog handlers. Ms Gornicki claims this was done in an attempt to antagonise the claimants and intimate them into leaving the force.

These allegations come during an already controversial period for Avon and Somerset Police, as chief constable, Nick Gargan, is currently awaiting a misconduct hearing on claims he made ‘inappropriate advances’ towards junior female officers.