The Government has failed in restricting Fall of Kabul whistleblower’s case from being heard
The civil servant who gave an anonymous interview to the BBC about the UK Government’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has today received an interim judgment from the employment tribunal, relating to Government’s application to strike out key sections of her witness testimony on the grounds that their inclusion would contravene parliamentary privilege.
Josie Stewart was a senior and experienced civil servant working in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) who was dismissed after disclosing information to the BBC about the UK’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. She is now taking a Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) claim in the Central London Employment Tribunal.
The case is without precedent and raises important issues about Ms Stewart’s right to protection under existing law in circumstances where she disclosed information to the media about serious failings of the government. In its preliminary stages, the case has also raised significant issues relating to the extent to which Ms Stewart can rely on evidence about things said in Parliament in explaining why she blew the whistle.
The employment tribunal has decided to allow some of the contested elements of Ms Stewart’s evidence, and to strike out others.
On reading the judgment, Ms Stewart said “I am relieved that Government has not been fully successful in its application to strike out evidence that is central to my case, but this judgement does mean that I will not be able to give a full explanation to the court of why I felt it necessary to speak out, nor why the law that protects disclosures in the public interest should apply in my case. It undermines my individual rights, it undermines our existing whistleblower protection law, and it undermines accountability in government. Civil servants should be able to blow the whistle when processes of parliamentary scrutiny are undermined by government lies, without their rights to bring a whistleblowing claim being restricted.”
Cathy James OBE solicitor for the Claimant said “Although we are pleased with some elements of this judgment, it is disappointing that Josie’s full freedom of expression and right to a fair trial are being restricted. We will be considering all of the options she now has in proceeding with this litigation including the prospect of an appeal.”
Josie is funding her claim via CrowdJustice.
For further information contact:
James and West Law LLP