UK: Group calls for whistleblowers code

Comedian Mark Thomas

Comedian Mark Thomas - Credit: Archant

The Government has been urged to issue a statutory code on whistleblowing to give people confidence to speak out rather than keep concerns to themselves.

A group of industry and academic experts called for a code of practice making it easier for workers to raise issues such as malpractice or dangers to safety.

The report, following recent scandals such as blacklisting of construction workers, phone hacking and problems in the NHS, was published by a commission set up by charity Public Concern at Work.

Sir Anthony Hooper, chairman of the commission, said: “Reports into public scandals and tragedies reveal that those who would wish to blow the whistle are prevented or discouraged from so doing and that those who have blown the whistle are not listened to or are punished. This report makes practical but far-reaching recommendations for change.”

Cathy James, chief executive of Public Concern at Work, said: “The code of practice provides a set of standards against which organisations can be measured. The code provides organisations a clear road map for better whistleblowing arrangements.

“Regulators need to enforce this code and, if necessary, be given the power to do so.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Whistleblowing is an important way to root out malpractice and wrongdoing in a workplace. But with the blacklisting scandal showing that some people have had their careers wrecked for daring to speak out at work, most people are too scared to say anything for fear of retribution.

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“It’s important that we have stronger legal protections and written workplace procedures for whistleblowers to underpin the important work that union reps do in supporting workers who speak out.”

Among those affected by the blacklisting scandal is comedian Mark Thomas, who spoke of his anger after discovering his name was on a blacklist drawn up for construction companies.

He said he was “shocked” to find that he had been included on secret files of thousands of mainly building workers. Most do not know they were on the list.

His name was found by the GMB union, which is pursuing compensation on behalf of a number of its members and others such as environmental activists.