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Prison officer awarded damages after whistleblowing case

14 May 2008

Ms Howie claimed she was blanked and ignored by staff at the prison, despite changes supposed to have been brought in after Mrs Lingard's tribunal in 2004.
An employment tribunal said the way Ms Howie's complaint was handled was a "travesty of what should have occurred" and the Prison Service had done "everything it could... to rub salt into the wounds". The tribunal also ordered the Prison Service to pay Howie's legal costs. Ms Howie's solicitor John Sturzaker, of Russell Jones & Walker, said: "The total level of the award and the highly unusual steps of ordering the Prison Service to pay aggravated damages and legal costs, reflect the tribunal's view of the comprehensive failure on the part of the Prison Service. "What makes this even more troubling is that the case bears striking similarities to the Lingard whistleblowing case. Despite assurances that the service would learn lessons from that case, it seems that it has done little to change the culture that encourages people to 'turn a blind eye' and victimises those who speak up." Businesses should have policies in place setting out arrangements for members of staff to raise serious concerns about malpractice or serious wrongdoing in ways which will protect them from reprisal. You can find a whistleblowing policy setting out such arrangements here.