Backbench Business - Whistleblowingbackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 3rd July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 5:16 pm, 3rd July 2019

I am grateful for that intervention. I think I remember taking part in a Westminster Hall debate in which that case was highlighted.

We are going to publish our first report of a series. We have created an ambitious work schedule for our all-party group, but our primary report, based on the first-hand testimony of whistleblowers, should be published soon. I see so many people in the Chamber who have been of so much support to the group’s work, and who have served on the panels that we have put together to receive evidence and witness testimony, so I take the opportunity to thank publicly the Members who have been willing to do that.

We have also worked alongside WhistleblowersUK, which specialises in supporting whistleblowers. I pay tribute to its work and that of other such organisations. Most importantly, I would like to thank the whistleblowers themselves. The whistleblowers who have come before us to give testimony have proven to be caring, principled members of society who have put themselves at considerable risk to call out malpractice and misdemeanour. Some of those people are not covered by the current whistleblowers’ protections and law; many work, but some were not working.

In less than 12 months, we have heard and collected over 400 pieces of individual evidence to contribute to the series of reports that we intend to publish. Many of the testimonies were very difficult to hear and I will tell hon. Members why. These are people who put everything on the line. As colleagues said earlier, when those whistleblowers first spoke up, they did not realise what it would involve. However, having started out on that course, they stuck with it. I have nothing but total admiration and respect for these people. They have suffered mental trauma, loss of their career, loss of their businesses, persecution of their families, stringent gagging orders—all in the name of blowing a whistle on crime, corruption, negligence, wastefulness and cover-ups.

Many of these people are not employees; they are service users, bystanders, parents at school, patients at hospitals, suppliers, customers and taxpayers. Whoever they are, we should be grateful for whistleblowers. They saw themselves as doing their job, doing their duty, doing what was right. They did the right thing to uphold what they thought was the right standard—the professional standard. They thought they would probably be praised and recognised for speaking up, doing the right thing, protecting people, protecting reputations—organisational reputations, individual reputations—and standing up for the public good and public confidence, particularly in our public services.