Morgan v Royal Mencap Society: update on whistleblowing and the public interest test

Morgan v Royal Mencap Society: update on whistleblowing and the public interest test

In recent blogs, we’ve looked at several cases that concern the public interest test for a whistleblowing claim. Particularly the the Nurmohamed and Chesterton Global case, which is on appeal.

You may recall that this public interest test is a new introduction to the whistleblowing regime, having replaced the requirement that disclosures be made ‘in good faith’.

While the phrase ‘public interest’ might suggest an issue that affects the public at large, the reality is that Tribunals are construing it on a far, far narrower basis.

Morgan v Royal Mencap Society

In this case, the Claimant complained that her cramped working conditions posed a risk to her health and safety.

She later said that these complaints were protected disclosures.

An Employment Tribunal took the unusual step of striking out the claims at a Preliminary Hearing.

Even though there had been no evidence from the Claimant, they looked at what would have been the Claimant’s case at its highest and decided that such disclosures were not in the public interest.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal reversed this decision.

It pointing out that if she genuinely believed her particular, personal complaints were nonetheless in the wider interest of other employees generally, then that might satisfy the public interest test.

What this means for you

Whistleblowing claims are not common. And when they’re encountered, it’s usually fairly weak cases brought simply because someone doesn’t have two years’ service, so is unable to bring an unfair dismissal case.

But if you ever get to the point where you’re wondering whether a complaint satisfies the public interest test, then it’s as well to err on the side of caution.

These issues will be considered when the appeal in the Chesterton case is heard later this year.

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Please call Ted Flanagan on 01482 324252.

Or email Ted here.

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