Mar 19, 2009

15. What is the law in relation to Whistle Blowing?

In truth, it doesn't say anything, save for the protection of a whistle blower, who is employed.  Generally speaking, an employee's position is safeguarded if they have properly voiced their concerns to management and management have failed to act.

The contentious area is the common law edict of "breach of confidence" which, to a certain extent, can prevent disclosure of confidential information.  However, if you do not have a duty of care (as an employee or contractor for instance) then you are not legally culpable - you are simply passing on information.

Even if you do have a duty of care, the law recognises the public interest in exposing the information to the press may outweigh the obligation to preserve confidence.  In the past, Judges have repeatedly emphasised the fact the press are the guardian of public interest and are at liberty to make disclosures.

This protection can extend to "official secrets" - the protection remains the same.  If it is in the public interest (not the interest of the public) to make the disclosure, then the Courts will take a positive view of the facts placed before it.

You must remember very, very few informants are ever identified - that is the safeguard offered by Whistle Blowers Press Agency Limited - we are a firebreak between the informant and the newspaper/broadcaster.

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