Dear John: I need to blow the whistle but will legislation protect me?

Q

I have gone down the route of taking a compromise agreement but am disappointed with the actions of the NUT in terms of resolving outstanding issues. I have lost my position as a HoD but do have a teaching position to go to. There is an urgent issue that must be addressed, however, and for this I will need to make a public interest disclosure to the LEA. The person who is listed as the contact wanted me to identify myself formally and I have refused to do so unless he assures me that the ethos of Public Interest Disclosure will be adhered to. Basically, I want assurance that the Public Interest Disclosure Act supersedes any confidentially clause in the compromise agreement. I have explained this to the officer at the LEA and he has now stopped communicating with me.

How do I take this above the officer at the LEA? I was thinking my MP. If the issue is not addressed then there will have been no investigation and the issue could still be current - leading to further malpractice. It could also rebound badly on me if I do not disclose.

 

A

The development of Public Interest Disclosure legislation was designed to help whistleblowers who had a reasonable belief of some irregularity. I do not know whether your agreement is with the local authority as your employer, if it was a community school or some other party if it was some other type of school. Without sight of the compromise agreement and whether it deals with the substantive issue or is just a means of sweeping the issue out of sight it is difficult to advise in a particular case. You could go to your MP who may or may not be interested. If there is a criminal matter involved, you could approach the police, but you may need to see a senior officer. If the issue involves professional competence issues, then you could also approach the GTCE compliance department and ask them to investigate.

In the end, there is always the media as a means of getting the matter into the open. You might also need to talk with a lawyer about the content of the compromise agreement and whether that itself is in the public interest. These matters are tricky and best dealt with by those who understand the ramifications.