The term ‘whistleblower’ has in the past (rightly or wrongly) brought to mind negative connotations. A whistleblower might have a personal agenda or an axe to grind. They may be deliberately trying to sabotage a company or individual. Or they may just revel in causing trouble. That was, for many years, the public opinion of a whistleblower, primarily because those who felt compelled to speak out often did so behind a cloak of anonymity. This was because they feared for their future, their job, or even in some extreme cases, their own wellbeing.

Today, we have a much more positive view of whistleblowers. They’re seen as people who are brave enough to speak out against corruption, wrong-doing, or unacceptable working conditions and practices. So, if you’ve reached your limit and need to speak out, who do you talk to?

What is a whistleblower?

This is the term used to describe a worker who passes on information concerning certain types of wrongdoing. Such a report is known as making a ‘protected disclosure’. If you see something at work that could be affecting others (including the general public) and decide to speak out, then you could be a whistleblower. It may be signs of malpractice, a risk or actual damage to the environment, a criminal offence or perhaps dangerous working conditions that could potentially put lives at risk.

Is my job at risk?

Whistleblowers are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), which means it’s against the law for anyone to be treated unfairly or dismissed because they have blown the whistle.

The law gives protection to those who expose serious issues within the workplace. So no, you should not be concerned about losing your job because you’ve chosen to speak out, but it is understandable that you may be. If you’re a worker, for example an employee in the NHS, a police officer or office worker, then your job security is protected, even if you decide to go public with your concerns.

Trainees and interns are also protected, as are agency workers.

The law holds that workers are protected against both victimisation and dismissal where a protected disclosure has been made.

What is a ‘gagging clause’?

A ‘gagging clause’ or confidentiality clause as it’s more commonly referred to, is an agreement either within a contract of employment or drawn up separately between an employer and an employee. They commonly appear in settlement agreements and other forms of severance agreement. Such clauses prevent the employee from disclosing information about the company or people that they may work with.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 renders gagging clauses unenforceable if they prevent a worker making a protected disclosure, so even if one has been signed, a whistleblower can still go on to expose any wrongdoing as long as it’s in the public interest.

Care must be taken not to confuse these with reasonable non-disclosure agreements, which are generally included from the outset within a contract and cover things such as not disclosing to other potential rival companies the details of customers or clients.

Personal grievances

If your issue may be regarded as a personal grievance, rather than something that could affect others, then you may not be covered by any legislation that gives protection to whistleblowers. If you do feel that the issue is more of a personal grievance, you should refer to your employer’s grievance policy.

If you are uncertain, you should seek legal advice.

Who do I tell?

You can go directly to your employer either personally or anonymously, but this may not have any real effect. Your employer may well have a whistleblowing policy contained within a staff handbook which you should read before you consider your next steps. Such a policy will explain what you should expect and should also direct you to external bodies if you do not feel able to speak to your employer directly. You can still report your concern to them however, irrespective of whether they have a policy.

Alternatively, you can go to a ‘prescribed person’. The prescribed person will depend on what you are blowing the whistle on. Bear in mind that once you pass on the information to your employer or your prescribed person, you won’t have any further influence on proceedings. You can find a list of prescribed persons as defined by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy here, but, they include Ofcom, the Accounts Commission for Scotland, The Bank of England, HMRC, The Comptroller and Auditor General, the SFO, the FCA, and other bodies.

If you are not satisfied with how your employer dealt with your concern, you can tell someone else (e.g. a more senior member of staff) or a prescribed person.

Whether you report your concerns to your employer, or to a prescribed person, your employment rights will be protected.

Wider disclosures than that may be permitted but are very fact sensitive. For example, disclosure to the media will only be protected in limited circumstances. Where a disclosure is not permitted, you will not retain the protection given by PIDA.

To bring a successful claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) if you are dismissed (or suffer a detriment), you will need to show:

  1. that you made a disclosure;
  2. you followed the correct disclosure procedure; and
  3. you were dismissed, or suffered a detriment, as a result of making the disclosure.

It is worthwhile noting that since June 2013, where a case goes to the ET and the ET thinks the disclosure was made in bad faith, it has the power to reduce compensation by up to 25%.

If you don’t get the response you think your situation merits, then talk to employment lawyer Karen Cole today.

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Note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


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Corporate & Commercial: Veronica is very diligent and met the tight deadlines that were set for her to complete the liquidation which I realise were made harder by our late responses to her questions!

Deborah:
January 2019

Corporate & Commercial: Veronica has our complete trust. I can’t recommend Veronica more highly, she is a pleasure to work with.

Deborah:
January 2019

”Excellent firm. Brilliant people. Barker Gillette made me feel extremely well looked after and confident that I had the A team of legal representation looking out for my interests.”

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Employment Law: Customer Service and communication was brilliant there is nothing negative to say about the service.

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Criminal Defence: “I can’t thank [Steven Barker] enough for his support and advice.”

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July 2018

Criminal Defence: “I had had no cause for a criminal solicitor ever before therefore was more than a little worried. With Steven’s help and guidance through the process I came out unscathed at the other end.”

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Criminal Defence: “I would recommend Steven Barker to anyone caught up in criminal legal matters.”

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July 2018

Employment: Karen Cole Just what you need: Overall, kind, courteous, understanding and efficient with excellent advise.

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April 2017

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Wills, trust and probate - James McMullan "Efficient, approachable, understanding and affordable."

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Lease extensions: We have been very happy and satisfied with the level of service received and have not had any cause for concern or complaint in any of the dealings with Mr Jacobs or other members of the team.

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Employment: Karen Cole dealt with my case, she made the legal jargon very easy to understand, was patient, understanding but to the point.

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Dispute Resolution: Daniel Downes’ ability to read the request, take a commercial view and give options is why I will continue to use. Saves hours of debate. He is a pleasure to instruct.

Jane Darkin:
December 2017

RIAA BG have been an outstanding support to our organisation for ten years since our inception. Not only in setting up processes and contractual documentation but steering us through trickier, unfamiliar legislative waters from time to time.

December 2017

Private Client: Pleased to say that I am completely satisfied with the service James McMullan provided. Thank you so much.

Muriel Goldstein:
October 2017

Professional Negligence: Qaiser Khanzada and Steven Barker went out on a limb for me 30+ years ago and I'll never forget that.

Zak Jaggard:
September 2017

Professional Negligence: Qaiser and Steve’s dedication and professionalism guided me safely through a legal minefield, and went well beyond a solicitor's remit. They care - and to this day I think of them as family.

Zak Jaggard:
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Employment: I found Karen Cole to not only be engaging but extremely helpful, knowledgeable and professional, I would use her again should the need arise.

August 2017

Employment: I spoke with Karen Cole regarding an issue I had with a client and payments. Karen came up with a solution very quickly and a resolution was concluded within 14 days.

Andy: August 2017

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June 2017

Commercial: Ben Brownscombe provided me with excellent advice. He was easy to communicate with, he was able to explain the implication of each clause and very reliable.

May 2017

Employment Law : "Karen provided invaluable guidance and support throughout the process and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her services in this field."

May 2017

Private Client: I am very satisfied with [RBG's] services as I was in London for a very short visit but managed to arrange an appointment to see one of your partners who was able to help explain and complete the matter in question.

Eman Kassem:
April 2017

The advice and service that was given to us was invaluable to our business and [we] would use and recommend Karen Cole for her professional, clear and prompt service.

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January 2017

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Corporate: Extremely knowledgeable and able to convey this knowledge clearly and concisely. Would definitely recommend.

Stephan Buxton:
February 2017

Corporate: Excellent experience of working with Veronica and the team. Always friendly and approachable.

Stephan Buxton:
February 2017

Corporate: RIAA Barker Gillette made the company both investable to Business Angels and overall commercially viable.

Niall Haughian, CFA: Chief Operating Officer:
February 2017

Corporate: RIAA Barker Gillette has taken my start-up company that lacked structure and provided us with sound legal and business advice.

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Corporate: Solaris Photonics is truly grateful for the tremendous professional effort undertaken by the RIAA Barker Gillette team.

Niall Haughian, CFA: Chief Operating Officer:
February 2017

Company Commercial: [Veronica] used her expertise to suggest crucial additions that gave additional benefits to my business interests, that I had not even considered.

S. Arnold:
February 2017

Company Commercial: Excellent service and I wouldn't hesitate to use Veronica again and recommend her.

S. Arnold:
February 2017

Company Commercial: The contracts my business required were complex. Veronica was efficient, friendly and took the time to ensure everything we needed was covered.

S. Arnold:
February 2017

Residential Property: Simon Levi is always helpful, clear and meticulous. I always feel that he has our best interests at heart.

M. Orteu:
January 2017

Dispute Resolution: Alex “really protects his clients to the best of his ability. I would not hesitate to recommend him. Excellent manner with clients and highly gifted.”

Morris Nourani, Hastings International:
December 2016

Dispute Resolution: Alex Deal is a “very bright, hardworking individual inside and outside working hours.”

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December 2016

Dispute Resolution: Alex Deal “attains a very sharp grasp of extremely complicated issues including cross border commercial matters.”

Morris Nourani, Hastings International:
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Dispute Resolution: Alex Deal “is, simply, in a class of his own. Focused, dedicated and genuinely caring about his clients, he excels in getting into every tiny detail quickly.”

Morris Nourani, Hastings International:
December 2016

Wills, tax and trusts: “We were always happy with the service from James McMullan.”

Josephine Sullivan:
December 2016

Steven Barker gave us his personal attention no matter how small the detail.

Mr J Patel:
December 2016

We are very thankful to Steven Barker for helping us out on our difficult times, and being there for us whenever he was required.

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Laura St-Gallay, Dispute Resolution: “Fees have in all cases been very reasonable and I have very much appreciated the responsiveness of the team when I have needed advice at short notice.”

Peter Scholes:
October 2016

Laura St-Gallay, Dispute Resolution “The advice I received was helpful and timely, and a satisfactory settlement was reached quickly in large part due to the high quality of the advice given.”

Peter Scholes:
October 2016

Alex Deal, Dispute Resolution “I would not hesitate to recommend the Firm for any matters relating to litigation/dispute resolution or employee/partnership law matters (where Alex has previous provided valuable advice).”

Peter Scholes:
October 2016

Dispute Resolution: Alex Deal and Laura St-Gallay responded immediately to my request for assistance even though the amounts at stake were relatively small.

Peter Scholes:
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Stuart Jacobs, Property Litigation: “It was very important for us to feel confident and be cost efficient with our legal case.”

Loretta Martinelli:
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Laura St-Gallay, Property Litigation “The numerous changes were well understood and have been taken on board each time we changed our mind on our strategy.”

Loretta Martinelli:
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Laura St-Gallay, Property Litigation “The matter was dealt with in a very kind and calm manner while keeping us informed of the cost implications throughout.”

Loretta Martinelli:
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Stuart Jacobs, Property Litigation “The firm was very understanding and patient with our request and regular requirements for explanations and changes.”

Loretta Martinelli:
October 2016

Wills, trusts and tax: James went above and beyond in looking after the entire process.

Ian Cuthbertson:
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Criminal Defence: Carly Aitchison “I would not hesitate to recommend [RIAA Barker Gillette], I do not think I could have done any better, they have my eternal thanks and gratitude.”

Rob Meekcoms:
June 2016

Criminal Defence: “Steve and his team were absolutely brilliant, they supported me through the toughest times I have ever been through.”

Rob Meekcoms:
June 2016

Commercial Property - Simon Levi: "Very satisfied and happy with the results and professional communication of Mr Levi during the legal process. I will definitely use RBG again in the near future and will highly recommend Mr Levi to all my friends and relatives." 

 Eran Ezra, September 2016

“Vinay Verma demonstrated exceptional professionalism and sensitivity from start to finish.”

Mr I C and Ms N K

“I was extremely satisfied with all aspects of the service. Veronica was extremely personable and she made me feel very comfortable when dealing with an unfamiliar situation.”

Vanessa Lorenz

“Both Alex and Veronica have been extremely professional and easy to work with.They know how to listen to your needs and are helpful in giving advice.”

Susan Keese, Director

“Alex and Veronica talk things through with you (not at you like many solicitors!) in a language you can understand and ensure that your needs are fulfilled.”

Susan Keese, Director

“Veronica Hartley is a very capable solicitor who acted for me on an important and complex case which ultimately had a satisfactory conclusion.”

Stephen Deverell, Chairman

“Veronica Hartley was extremely friendly and informative. Complex legal terms were explained in an easy to understand manner.”

Peter Low

“I was left feeling comfortable that Veronica had my best interests at heart and a lot of stress and worry was taken away as soon as we began speaking to her.”

Peter Low

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Gary Watts

“Not only is Veronica excellent at her job she is also very genuine and a pleasure to deal with.”

Deborah Haw, Director

“After several bad experiences with other solicitors it was such a pleasure to have Veronica look after our interests in the UK.”

Deborah Haw, Director

“Whatever questions and problems we put in front of Veronica she seems to resolve with ease. I cannot recommend her more highly.”

Deborah Haw, Director

“Relaxed and personable working.”

Damian Griffiths

“James was throughout very kind, calm and polite which makes him in my view the perfect divorce lawyer.”

Mrs A K

“James dealt with all my emails and phone calls extremely efficiently.”

Mrs A K

“James McMullan is a very professional lawyer and I always felt that he advised me very well and importantly very realistically. ”

Mrs A K

“James assisted me with my difficult divorce this year. He was professional and supportive at all times. I could not recommend him highly enough.”

Madeline Fleming

“Friendly and professional.”

Jonathan Pullum

“My solicitor is excellent. I have not really dealt with anyone else but calls to the office are fine.”

Jerry Morgan

“Patience, understanding, concern, compassion, expediency”

Jeffrey Lambert

Carly Aitchison Kept me informed all the time.

Ritagate Ltd

“We have the highest regard for the expertise and client commitment they demonstrate. They are responsive, conscientious and always go the ‘extra mile’.”

Stuart Leaman

“Alex's mind is skilled, brilliant and tactical in all of his dealings, especially if so required in court, his solution is pragmatic and commercial.”

Tony Muskat at AS MUSKAT

“As a client, I have always felt in safe hands and it has always been my pleasure to work with Alex.”

Tony Muskat at AS MUSKAT

“Alex provides sound, considered advice and has the ability to analyse and appraise the merits of any case, with the best interests of his client always in mind.”

Tony Muskat at AS MUSKAT

“I first used Alex's legal expertise in 1999 and was immediately impressed by his ability and have continued to rely on him for all my legal matters in the UK ever since.”

Tirapongse Pangsrivongse

“I have total confidence in the other members of the firm that Alex has introduced me to such as Veronica. I cannot recommend Alex more highly and have trust in all his advice.”

Tirapongse Pangrivongse, Chairman

“Alex Deal and his team have provided us with incisive and timely advice over a number of years. His help in employment matters has minimised our exposure.”

Robert Macdonald, Chairman

“Alex always bears commerciality in the forefront of his mind when giving direct and concise advice. We have been happy to recommend him widely.”

Robert Macdonald, Chairman

“For over 15 years, Alex is the first person I turn to with a legal problem.He is responsive, sharp and most importantly invariably right - about the sharpest legal mind.”

Kam Takhar

“Alex's rigorous legal advice has often helped our company avoid protracted legal disputes. Alex offers tremendous external support to our in-house legal and HR teams.”

Jose Miguel Echenagusia,
Vice President Legal Services

“Alex stands out for his sound business judgment, profound knowledge of the law and pragmatic approach to the resolution of disputes.”

Jose Miguel Echenagusia,
Vice President Legal Services

“Our company has used Barker Gillette for many years. Alex and his team have always acted in our best interests offering a prompt, effective and responsive service.”

Jose Miguel Echenagusia,
Vice President Legal Services

I have been a client of the firm for many years and have found them extremely supportive and kind in very difficult circumstances.

Vinayak,Chairman

“Looking at the best needs for the client and tailoring advice to that.”

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