What is the Protection for Whistleblowing Bill (UK)?


What is the Protection for Whistleblowing Bill? 

In the wake of a series of tragedies, British politicians are amplifying calls for urgent action to overhaul the country’s whistleblower legislation in the form of the Protection for Whistleblowing Bill. 

The current law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1988 (PIDA), has come under scrutiny for its inadequacies in protecting whistleblowers and addressing wrongdoing. In response to mounting pressure, a new bill known as the Protection for Whistleblowing Bill was presented before Parliament on February 2nd and received its second reading on March 2nd.

Led by WhistleblowersUK (WBUK) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Whistleblowing, the Whistleblowing Bill aims to revolutionise whistleblower protections in the UK. 

The Protection for Whistleblowing Bill will make it an offence to retaliate against whistleblowers, fail to act on their disclosures, or cover up wrongdoing. Central to the proposed legislation is the establishment of an Office of the Whistleblower, endowed with statutory powers to enforce fines and penalties against organisations and individuals responsible for retaliation or wrongdoing. 

Why has the Bill been proposed? 

Experts in whistleblowing have long highlighted the shortcomings of PIDA, emphasising its failure to adequately safeguard whistleblowers and hold wrongdoers accountable. 

The reforms proposed in the Whistleblowing Bill aim to rectify these shortcomings, which have been brought to public attention in high-profile scandals such as the Post-Office Scandal and the Lucy Letby case.  

The Post-Office Scandal, described by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as the “biggest miscarriage of justice in U.K (United Kingdom). history,” exposed the consequences of failing to heed whistleblowers’ warnings. Richard Roll, a whistleblower who exposed faults in the Horizon computer software used by the Post Office, faced threats and intimidation for his disclosures. Despite eventual legal victories for affected postmasters, the toll of legal fees (which were not reflected in the compensation), and ruined reputations underscores the urgent need for legislative reform. 

Similarly, the case of Lucy Letby within the National Health Service (NHS) shed light on the systemic retaliation faced by whistleblowers within the healthcare sector. Despite repeated attempts by colleagues to raise concerns about Letby’s actions, their complaints were disregarded, leading to further tragedies. Mary Robinson MP highlighted the inadequacy of the current system, where whistleblowers are often dismissed and subjected to punitive measures rather than being afforded protection and support. 

The Role of the Whistleblowing Bill 

The Protection for Whistleblowing Bill seeks to empower whistleblowers by establishing a dedicated office responsible for investigating complaints and safeguarding whistleblowers’ identities. By centralising responsibility for whistleblower protection and enforcement, the bill aims to streamline the process of reporting wrongdoing and ensure that whistleblowers are treated with the respect and protection they deserve. 

The importance of creating a supportive environment for whistleblowers, where organisations actively encourage disclosures and prioritise accountability, has been emphasised. The proposed reforms signal a fundamental shift towards recognising whistleblowers as vital contributors to combating misconduct, corruption, and cover-ups in both the public and private sectors. 

Key Considerations 

Strengthening Legal Protections 

The Protection for Whistleblowing Bill presents a unique opportunity to bolster legal protections for whistleblowers and hold wrongdoers accountable. Instituting penalties for organisations and individuals involved in covering up wrongdoing, or retaliating against whistleblowers, is a purposeful step towards fostering a culture of accountability. Additionally, establishing an Office of the Whistleblower with statutory powers to investigate complaints and enforce sanctions will serve as a vital safeguard against reprisals and ensure the integrity of the whistleblowing process. 

Fostering Organisational Accountability 

Effective whistleblower reform requires a shift within organisations towards a culture of transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct. Employers must prioritise the creation of robust whistleblowing policies and mechanisms for reporting concerns. These should be coupled with comprehensive training programs to educate employees about their rights and responsibilities. By proactively addressing whistleblower concerns and treating whistleblowers with respect and dignity, organisations can cultivate an environment where wrongdoing is swiftly identified and addressed. 

Leveraging External Support Services 

External whistleblowing services and investigation providers play a pivotal role in supporting organisations’ efforts to prepare for whistleblower reform. These specialised entities offer impartial channels for whistleblowers to report concerns confidentially, ensuring that disclosures are recognised and addressed. By partnering with external service providers, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to upholding ethical standards and fostering a speak-up culture. This mitigating the risks associated with misconduct and enhancing organisational resilience.  

Advocating for Cultural Change 

Beyond legislative and organisational reforms, advocating for cultural change is essential to creating an environment where whistleblowers feel empowered to come forward without fear of reprisal. By challenging stigma and dispelling misconceptions surrounding whistleblowing, advocates can shift societal attitudes towards viewing whistleblowers as courageous individuals who play a vital role in safeguarding the public interest. Promoting empathy, solidarity, and support for whistleblowers is integral to building a more just and accountable society.  


Whistleblower reform in the UK is being duly called for. Recent events have shown there is a pressing need for comprehensive legal protections and organisational accountability when it comes to reporting wrongdoing.  

As the Protection for Whistleblowing Bill advances through Parliament, businesses must recognise the significance of these reforms.  

Although there is no definitive timeline for this Bill (an official course of action has not yet been announced since the reading on February 2nd), whistleblowing reform for the UK is on the horizon. Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum have voiced the need for bolstering of whistleblower rights – whether that is in the form of the Protection for Whistleblower Act, or the financial compensation/incentivising of those willing to speak out against wrongdoing. 
It is best practice, from both a regulatory and cultural perspective, for organisations to ensure they are in step with the highest level of corporate governance. By embracing robust whistleblower policies and leveraging external support services, organisations can position themselves as champions of integrity in the face of misconduct. As stakeholders navigate the complexities of whistleblower reform, a collective commitment to promoting a culture of accountability and ethical conduct will be pivotal in shaping a more transparent and trustworthy business landscape. 

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