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Judges are entitled to the protection of whistleblowing provisions

Related Member(s):
Karon Monaghan QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Human Rights

The Supreme Court, led by Lady Hale, has determined that excluding Judges and Office Holders from whistle-blowing protection is a breach of their human rights in the case Gilham v Ministry of Justice. This decision follows a seven year legal wrangle against the Ministry of Justice.

Judge Gilham initially raised concerns in 2010 about the impact of the major cost cutting reforms to the Court Service. Judge Gilham blew the whistle about bullying, the lack of appropriate and secure court room accommodation, the severely increased workload and administrative failures.  She claimed that her complaints were “qualifying disclosures” under section 43B of the Employment Rights Act 1996 as they were about a failure to comply with legal obligations, that miscarriages of justice were likely, and that health and safety was being or was likely to be endangered.  Judge Gilham argued that she was entitled to protection due her status as a whistle-blower.

After blowing the whistle, Judge Gilham was seriously bullied, ignored and undermined by her fellow judges and court staff.  She suffered from a severe psychiatric injury, which resulted in a disability under the Equality Act 2010. She was signed off work with stress from early 2013 and forced into an ill heath retirement process which is now the subject of a further claim.  Against the odds, her health improved and she returned to work earlier this year.

In making its decision the Supreme Court recognised that detrimental treatment against Judge Gilham as a result of her blowing the whistle would be an interference with her human right to freedom of expression under article 10 ECHR (right to freedom of expression) .

Karon Monaghan QC was instructed by Emilie Cole at Irwin Mitchell on behalf of the claimant.

To read this press release in full, please visit Irwin Mitchell’s website.