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“UK needs to change its whistleblower culture and assist people brave enough to report wrongdoing”

Phillips & Cohen’s Erika Kelton writes in a Belfast Telegraph letter to the editor that a recent survey about the dismal conditions for whistleblowing in the UK shows the need for British lawmakers to strengthen whistleblower protections and rewards.

It is disheartening to read the survey that highlights the poor conditions for whistleblowers in the UK (“Fears over career prospects are deterring UK whistleblowers”, News, November 7).

The survey showed a significant drop in support from senior company managementfor UK whistleblowers from 51% in 2014 to just 38% today.

Moreover, 55% of those questioned thought concerns about retaliation and reputation damage would deter potential whistleblowers from coming forward. Whistleblowers are critical to anti-fraud and corruption efforts. In the US, whistleblowers are coming forward in droves to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, because they know they will support them.

As a whistleblower attorney, I have seen at first-hand the positive impact whistleblower rewards and protections have: since the SEC whistleblower programme began in 2011, over $1bn in fines have been recovered as a result of and a total of more than $162m has been paid to nearly 50 whistleblowers.

And why not pay the whistleblowers? As Lord Cromwell, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, observed: “You pay for vermin control, so why do you expect people to do the right thing for nothing and then have their lives destroyed?”

The UK must fix its whistleblower culture and start embracing those who are brave enough to report wrongdoing.


Phillips & Cohen LLP

Washington DC

Belfast Telegraph

Read the letter on the Telegraph’s website here.

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