Whistleblowers called hotline 3,000 times in bid to expose fraud

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About 3,000 people called a whistleblowers’ hotline last year in a bid to expose record levels of fraud, corruption and malpractice, The Daily Express can reveal. They bombarded Whistleblowers UK to report wrongdoing in police forces, the NHS, government, financial services and other major institutions and sectors.

Campaigners say existing laws do not protect insiders who witness misconduct in large institutions and want to speak out in a bid to have it stopped.

They believe whistleblowers are likely to be ignored and discredited by their superiors while their allegations are swept under the carpet.

But the non-profit group is backing a new Protection for Whistleblowing Bill which will create a watchdog with statutory powers to investigate malpractice.

Executives who orchestrate a cover-up could face up to two years in jail or a £50,000 fine.

Supporters are also staging the first Whistleblowing Awareness Week in Parliament next week to lobby support for new legislation from MPs and Peers.

Georgina Halford-Hall, chief executive of Whistleblowers’ UK, said: “Any member of the public who wants to raise a concern needs somewhere to go.

“They don’t have that now. They have to go to the media who do not have statutory powers to investigate wrongdoing of this kind.

“We’re saying it is time for the Government to do the Government’s work and not leave it to a Citizens’ Army of well-meaning professionals and tenacious individuals.

“We must normalise speaking up and help those who feel alone and abandoned by society. Whistleblowing is vitally important to keep us all safe.”

She said the culture in large companies, charities and public bodies means senior management goes “morally absent” when wrong-doing is uncovered.

“Leadership has been focused for far too long on making buttons or whatever they do, but we haven’t taken enough notice of how we do what we need to do.

“This piece of legislation is specifically designed to drive forward that cultural change in the UK and hopefully much wider than the UK.”

“The power has to sit with the people who can execute it and ensure that those who cover up or retaliate against those who speak out are held to account.

“Our bill is revolutionary because what we’ve done is said that in cases where they retaliate, you will be held to account.

“You could go to jail for up to two years, you could have a fine of £50,000 – it’s likely to go up.”

Baroness Susan Kramer said her Protection for Whistleblowing Bill will set up an Office of the Whistleblower with statutory powers to investigate wrong-doing.

“Where you have human beings, you will have people who do the wrong thing, and where you have power you will find people and institutions who abuse it.

“The most powerful deterrents are whistleblowers, whether in financial services, the NHS. It’s that citizens’ army of whistleblowers.

“Whistleblowers do absolutely crucial work to expose abuse and crime and often face detriment themselves. We’re hoping to change this through legislation.

“The other thing is getting the cultural change whereby organisations say that if someone has told us something has gone wrong we should investigate it immediately.

“They could just start circling the wagons and turning on the whistleblower to defend what feels like an attack on their inner circle.”

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