In sharp contrast to the UK Government’s new approach to whistleblowing, the European Parliament has just voted in favour of whistleblower protections.
The vote builds on a draft law created by Greens MEPs.
In the UK, we have a Government looking at handing down chilling and draconian punishments for those who would seek to expose wrongdoing, while in the European Parliament there is cross-party support for enshrining whistleblower protections in law. The disparity is striking.
Whistleblowing is essential to ensuring the accountability and integrity of the public and private sector. It’s the only way in which otherwise secret information can be brought to light, and it is often the best way, at least for now, to uncover wrongdoing, corruption, and downright immoral behaviour.
Recent scandals uncovered by whistleblowers include illegal mass surveillance, industrial scale tax avoidance and the sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers.
The biggest leak in history to date, revealed by the Panama Papers, reinforces just how important whistleblowers are for facilitating in-depth journalistic investigations in the public interest.
We need to ensure there are safe ways for people to provide information and they should be protected when doing so, not vilified and victimised.
Another fundamental point brought sharply into focus by the UK Government’s proposals, is that we must reverse the current trend of clamping down on freedom of information and freedom of expression, and granting ever greater rights to government and corporations to silence dissent.
Far from being unnecessary ‘red tape’, EU-wide legislation supporting whistleblowers is long overdue and essential for protecting the genuine public interest.
This remains just as relevant for the UK, even as it edges towards Brexit.
Green Party MEP for South East
European Parliament, Brussels
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