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Response to PASC Report by Chris Galley

Response to PASC Report by Chris Galley

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Published by chris_galley9938
The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has written an article in response to the PASC new recommendations for whistleblowing in Whitehall in light of the Damian Green affair. One of the authors is Chris Galley who was involved in the Damian Green affair and is now Research Director for the Sunlight Centre.
The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has written an article in response to the PASC new recommendations for whistleblowing in Whitehall in light of the Damian Green affair. One of the authors is Chris Galley who was involved in the Damian Green affair and is now Research Director for the Sunlight Centre.

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Published by: chris_galley9938 on Aug 13, 2009
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08/13/2009

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When it was discovered, in November last year, that I was the source of a series of Home Officeleaks that caused considerable embarrassment to the government, the police didn’t waste anytime. They arrived at my flat at dawn, searched me, confiscated many of my possessions andtreated me in the same way as a terror suspect. Then the Home Office “advised” me in thestrongest possible terms that I should wait out the weekend and the ensuing press frenzy in anRAF base. I did as I was told.Supposedly, there were grave “security concerns” about me. This stemmed from the fact that Ihad leaked documents detailing the Home Office’s employment of illegal immigrants, the risk of rising racial tensions due to the credit crunch and an explanation of the inordinate amount of timewasted on the counter terror bill.This week, the Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) chaired by TonyWright MP, released a report that looks at leaks and whistle-blowing in Whitehall. Itsrecommendations are supposed to build a framework to provide an avenue of complaint for  people who are moved, like I was, to let people know about improper governmental behaviour.PASC argues that whistle-blowing damages trust within government. It also suggests, quiterightly, that investigations of whistle-blowing are often politically motivated. The Committeereasons that civil servants need an accessible and visible means to raise concerns about theconduct of government. The aim is to take the criminality out of whistle-blowing, to create non- political Commissioners who will investigate fairly and only prosecute if the Official Secrets Actis breached.On face, these proposals are good. Right now, as a civil servant, you have little recourse to raiseissues in a safe and protected environment. This was one of my main concerns working at theHome Office at the time. I was aware of the correct procedure to approach my line manager, butI considered him a political appointee as he had previously worked for a well-known Labour Think Tank. This is one of the reasons for going outside to an independent organisation. If anindependent structure had existed outside at that time that I observed malpractice at the HomeOffice, the civil service commissioners would have been my first port of call.But Wright was clear, on BBC radio, that he does not aim to protect people like me. He claims Iwas politically motivated to embarrass his party and does not seem concerned that what I brought to light was unlawful misconduct on the government’s part. This raises the concern of whether Civil Service Commissioners can be appointed who are neutral. Unlike Wright, theymust have an independent background and motivation. After all, the inquiry he chaired waslaunched in the wake of a leak inquiry involving the investigation of myself and the ShadowImmigration Minister Damian Green MP, during which police searched Green's office without awarrant. We were both arrested and the six-month-long inquiry culminated in the end of my civilservice career, the loss of many friends and unemployment. I believe my actions to have been a public service and in the public interest and Wright’s desire not to protect others like me, whomight embarrass Labour, casts doubt on the independence of his “Commission.”

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