Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy
This policy was last reviewed by the Vice Chancellors Group in 2018.
This policy was last approved by the Audit and Risk Committee in 2018.
The College is committed to the highest standards of openness, probity and accountability. It seeks to conduct its affairs in a responsible manner, taking into account the requirements of the funding bodies and the Committee on Standards in Public Life (the Nolan Committee).
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998) gives legal protection to employees against being dismissed or penalised by their employers as a result of publicly disclosing certain serious concerns. It is a fundamental term of every contract of employment that an employee will faithfully serve his or her employer and not disclose confidential information about the employer’s affairs. However, where an individual discovers information which he or she believes shows malpractice or wrongdoing within the organisation then this information should be disclosed without fear of reprisal. Such disclosure may be made independently of line management.
This policy is intended to assist individuals who believe they have discovered malpractice or impropriety. It is not designed to question financial or business decisions taken by the College, nor may it be used to reconsider any matters which have already been dealt with under any grievance or disciplinary procedure.
Although the Public Interest Disclosure Act applies only to 'workers', the College believes that it is important that the policy and its procedures should apply to all persons officially connected with the College, including students and lay members of Council. For the purposes of this policy, such persons shall be referred to as 'Members of the College'.
2. Scope of the Policy
The policy is designed to allow members of the College to raise concerns at a high level or to disclose information which the individual believes may show malpractice.
The policy is intended to cover concerns which are in the public interest and are not appropriately dealt with under existing disciplinary and grievance procedures. These might include:
• financial or non-financial malpractice, impropriety or fraud;
• failure to comply with a legal obligation or with the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations of the College;
• serious health and safety risks • damage to the environment;
• criminal activity;
• academic or professional malpractice;
• miscarriage of justice
• improper conduct or unethical behaviour;
• attempts to suppress or conceal information relating to any of the above.
This policy is designed to offer protection to those members of the College who disclose concerns in the public interest provided that the disclosure is made in good faith and in the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that it reveals prima facie evidence of malpractice. The disclosure must not be made for reasons of personal gain and in the circumstances it must be reasonable to make the disclosure. Such individuals will be protected if they make the disclosure to the appropriate person (see section 4 below).
The College will treat all such disclosures in a confidential and sensitive manner. The identity of the individual making the disclosure will initially be kept confidential. However, any investigation process may reveal the source of the information, and the individual making the disclosure may need to provide a statement in order for the matter to be pursued effectively.
3.3 Anonymous Allegations
This policy encourages individuals to put their names to any disclosures they make. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful, but they will be considered if they appear to be serious, credible and capable of being confirmed by other credible sources.
3.4 Untrue Allegations
If an individual makes an allegation in good faith which is not confirmed by subsequent investigation no action will be taken against that individual. If, however, an individual makes malicious or vexatious allegations, does not act in good faith, or makes the allegations for the purposes of personal gain, disciplinary action may be taken against the individual concerned.
4. Procedure for Making a Disclosure
4.1 Initial Step
If making the disclosure to the line manager is inappropriate or has proved ineffective the individual should make the disclosure to the Chief Operating Officer who has been designated by the Council as the person responsible for considering such allegations. If, however, the disclosure is related to the Chief Operating Officer, then the disclosure may be made to the Vice-Chancellor. If the individual does not wish to make the disclosure to either of the above he or she may raise the matter with the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee, who can be contacted through the College's internal auditors:
Ruth Ireland, BDO LLP, 55 Baker Street, London W1U 1EU
The designated person appointed by the Chief Operating Officer will consider the information available and decide if there is a prima facie case to answer. In doing so the designated person will decide whether an investigation should be conducted and what form such an investigation should take. This will depend on the nature of the matter raised, and may include an internal investigation, an independent inquiry or referral to the Police.
An initial investigation to establish all the relevant facts may be conducted by an independent officer of the College, who will report his/her findings to the designated person. Investigations should not be carried out by the person who will have to reach a decision on the matter. Any investigation will be carried out as sensitively and speedily as possible.
The designated person will consider the results of the investigation and may then invoke an internal procedure (e.g. disciplinary) or refer the matter to an external authority for further investigation.
The designated person will inform the individual who made the disclosure what action is to be taken. If no action is taken then the individual concerned should be informed of the reason for this and allowed the opportunity to remake the disclosure to the Chairman of the Council. The Chairman of the Council will decide on an appropriate course of action based on the information available.
4.5 Reporting of Outcomes
A record of all disclosures, and subsequent actions taken, will be kept by the director of human resources who will retain such records for not less than three years. In all cases a report of the outcomes of any investigations will be made to the Audit and Risk Committee.
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This page was last updated on
6 January 2021
This page is reviewed and updated every 12 months.