Baroness Susan Kramer, the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing, spoke at University of York’s online symposium on whistleblowing. The symposium, “To blow the whistle or not? A symposium on complicity and compliance in economic and social wrongdoing,” was held on July 10 via Zoom and included parliamentary speakers, an academic keynote talk, a presentation of academic papers related to whistleblowing followed by question and answer sessions, and an expert panel discussion.
Baroness Kramer is a member of the Liberal Democrats in the UK and has had an illustrious career in both the private sector and in parliament. She spoke at the annual National Whistleblower Day 2019 celebration in Washington, D.C. and gave details about the UK’s treatment of whistleblowers.
In her keynote speech at the symposium, she noted the importance of whistleblowing, especially in these current times. Baroness Kramer discussed the work the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing has done with whistleblowers. Over the last year and a half, the group has spoken to over a thousand whistleblowers and several regulators to see identify the challenges they faced in making their disclosures.
“My personal view is that we should not try to make whistleblowers into saints or martyrs. Whistleblowers are ordinary people doing the right thing, very often doing the right job. And what they seek to do is expose an abuse, get that rectified, and carry on with their lives and be protected from any kind of retaliation. It doesn’t seem very much to ask,” said Baroness Kramer. She hopes the symposium will provide “a better path forward” for whistleblowers. “We’ll be able to pool resources and energy together to make sure that there is fundamental change that in the future, someone who sees wrongdoing can find it normal to speak out and normal to know they’re protected, she stated.”
Kevin Hollinrake MP, the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking and Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing, also presented at the symposium. He talked about how regulators can only be the “watchdogs”: whistleblowers are the real “bloodhounds” that can sniff out wrongdoing. But when whistleblowers speak out, they are mistreated: many of the whistleblowers Hollinrake has spoken to have said that they wouldn’t blow the whistle again. Hollinrake, along with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing, continues to try to get Office of the Whistleblower legislation in parliament.
At symposium’s expert panel which concluded the day’s events, Baroness Kramer expressed how parliament seems overwhelmed by more pressing issues brought by the pandemic but remains hopeful that the recent issues related to the pandemic will cause the government to see just how important whistleblowers are. She also wants to incorporate topics from the symposium into future whistleblower legislation talks and emphasized the importance of keeping whistleblowing an all-party issue.