Backbench Business - Whistleblowingbackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 3rd July 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton 4:50 pm, 3rd July 2019

I could not agree more. My right hon. Friend highlights the importance of some of these cases. We have to ask why an organisation would not want to know about this. My role before coming to this place four years ago was as managing director of my own business. We were quite a large business at that point. I dealt with all the complaints in the organisation because I wanted to know what was going on there, and that is the best way to find out. These people are our eyes and ears. We were an ethical business and we ran it well, but if anything was going off track, we would want to know about it. However, it seems that when these people step forward, the people around them—their superiors, I guess—too often feel that the situation is too risky and look to close down the complaints.

From the fair business banking perspective, we know that one third of all serious economic crimes are brought to light because of the actions of whistleblowers. It is very rarely the regulator that is going in there and identifying the problem and then dealing with it—in fact, quite the opposite. It is therefore absolutely fundamental that these people will step forward. All the whistleblowers we deal with say, “I would never do that again.” Other people in the sector hear about that and are then deterred from stepping forward. That is an absolutely intolerable situation. What these people do should be welcomed.

The right hon. Member for North Norfolk talked about the case of Mark Wright. In my experience, this not just about the organisations themselves but also about the regulator. The regulator could take a much firmer stance. Whistleblowing is part of its processes. It has responsibilities under protected disclosure to deal with whistleblowers, but that is not what happens. It pays lip service to the issue of whistleblowing. It says, “Yes, okay, we’re dealing with that,” but the cases that I will highlight illustrate that that is not what has happened. The FCA has got a terrible reputation in this area.