10 April 2015: Whistle-blowing and the Public Interest:
It is unlawful to subject someone to a detriment or dismiss them as a result of having made a Protected Disclosure, also known as whistle-blowing).
In June 2013 the law changed so that the worker had to reasonably believe that the disclosure was in the ‘Public Interest’. However, rather unhelpfully, ‘public interest’ was not defined, though it is generally understood to concern the welfare or well-being of the general public.
In Chestertons v Nurmohamed reported this week in the EAT, considered what was or was not in the public interest. The EAT stated that an individual contractual dispute would not normally satisfy the public interest test but that a disclosure relating to a relatively small group of people may do so.
The public interest test can be satisfied even where the basis of the disclosure is wrong and/or there was no public interest in the disclosure, provided that the worker’s belief that the disclosure was made in the public interest was objectively reasonable. The ‘public interest’ requirement merely prevents the worker from relying on a breach of his own employment contract where the breach is of a personal nature and there are no wider public interest implications.
In the Chesterton case, Mr N had complained that the company was overstating costs for its London office, thus driving down the bonuses for him and 100 senior managers. The EAT agreed that was in the public interest.
if you would like advice on whistleblowing and public interest, call one of our solicitors today on 0207 118 0950, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.reculversolicitors.co.uk