Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Whistleblowing have called on the government to introduce an Office of the Whistleblower as a matter of urgency.

Their report “Making whistleblowing work for society” highlights the impact of the failure of governments and organisations to act on disclosures to the public at an early stage, with the global pandemic providing the ultimate example of their value.

The APPG argue that, had the early warning provided by the Chinese doctor Li Wenliang been taken seriously, hundreds of thousands of deaths and a global economic downturn could potentially have been avoided.

Although the report’s authors acknowledged that the Public Interest Disclosure Act was a radical addition to worker protection when it was introduced in 1998, they expressed concern that only 12 per cent of cases which go to preliminary hearing at employment tribunals in England and Wales succeed. And they noted that nearly 40 per cent of whistleblowers reported in 2018 had gone on sick leave.

Whistleblowing cases are also taking longer to get to tribunal. In 2018, nearly half took longer than two years, with more than one in five taking longer than three years. Post-coronavirus (COVID-19), the APPG estimates that this is likely to almost double given that tribunals are now booking new hearings from February 2022.

Legal support for whistleblowers is also becoming increasingly more problematic, with fewer having access to legal representation. As a result, there are more whistleblowers who represent themselves than get legal representation. Employers on the other hand are securing more legal support than ever before.

The report’s authors noted an important gender dimension, with female whistleblowers more likely than men to report health issues, less likely than men to have legal representation and less likely than men to have their unfair dismissal claim upheld even if the judge upholds the protected disclosure claim. Although whistleblowing cases commonly include a discrimination claim, these are the least successful cases.

The All Party Group is calling for the urgent establishment of the Office of the Whistleblower to act as a centre of expertise mandated to make interventions that increase access to justice.

The research was led and authored by academics at the University of Greenwich who looked at how tribunals in England and Wales handled whistleblowing cases between 2015 and 2018.

To read the report in full, go to: