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The manner of complaining in whistleblowing cases

View profile for Kate Fretten
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Panayiotou v Kernaghan

In this case the claimant was a police officer. He made protected disclosures under the whistleblowing legislation relating to other officers’ treatment of victims. An investigation largely upheld his concerns, but the claimant continued to campaign. This made him increasingly difficult and time-consuming to manage. In the end, he was dismissed, ostensibly on the basis that he had an incompatible outside business interest.

The claimant brought a claim for unfair dismissal and the tribunal were critical of the way he had been treated. They also concluded that the manner of his dismissal was a ‘device’, intended to avoid any outside challenge. However, they also found that the claimant’s disclosures were not the reason for the mistreatment or his dismissal. They were caused by his campaign and his employer’s escalating frustration. These events were related to, but distinct from, the disclosures themselves. Therefore, his claim failed. The claimant appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, but they agreed with the tribunal’s conclusion.

In Practice

Employment Partner Kate Fretten says “This case shows that a protected disclosure can be separated from closely connected events when identifying the reason for subjecting an employee to a detriment or dismissal. For a claimant to succeed, they have to show that the detriment or dismissal is directly the result of the protected disclosure they have made. This case will make that more difficult for claimants, as employers may easily argue that it is an employee’s conduct surrounding the protected disclosure that is the reason for the detriment or dismissal.”

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting to chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 andKate or Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.