Angela Eagle’s 17 whistleblowers – The Eagle 17 – Are they REAL?

masked man blowing whistle

7th August 2016

Angela Eagle, failed Labour leadership candidate, has referred publicly in the press to a group of 17 unnamed people she describes as ‘whistleblowers’.  This group have made allegations and are presumably at some point going to expand their case further with details of alleged instances of “bullying, intimidation and homophobia”.

Presumably, the accused persons involved will shortly receive full details of all the allegations along with dates and times and the identities of their accusers, in order to have an opportunity to mount a defence in accordance with due process.

Articles were put out in two newspapers, one local, one national, on 2nd August, with the allegations referred to arising much earlier.  Presumably this group of 17 are all connected to the Labour party and are supporters of Angela Eagle in some way.

Liverpool Echo

The Guardian

As a group, they appear to share the same objective, which is odd for so many people. The size of the group is also unusual.  Whistleblowers predominantly appear alone, or occasionally in small clusters of 3 or 4 at the most.

It takes courage to do this alone, and whistleblowers generally put their heads over the parapet and speak up – without malice aforethought – without regard for their own safety – when they hold concerns that there have been one or more failures, their employer is responsible, but has failed to act when they should have done.

Almost by default, up and down the UK, whistleblowers are encouraged to notify early – not rush to the media – and to follow internal procedures in order to keep the process manageable, and in order to work with their employer towards a mutually acceptable outcome.

That said, we’re having a spot of trouble with the case of the Eagle 17.

Our admittedly limited information tells us some of them are employees, some are Wirral councillors and the rest are of unknown, undeclared status.  Whether they have colluded in order to compare notes, share and collate their information remains unclear.

Another aspect to this is that should this group not be made up of genuine whistleblowers – which we don’t feel it is – it would damage the positions of real whistleblowers, i.e. real workers who have notified of serious issues in good faith and have taken the consequences square on.  To feign such good honour and integrity for one’s own advantage and thereby erode others’ cases is frankly shameful and sordid.

Whistleblowing, when seen to be done in good faith, is a ‘protected’ action under an Act of Parliament known as PIDA – the full name being the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. This Act was championed [horrible word, we know] and brought in by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998 as an amendment to the Employment Act 1996, with the intention of protecting employees who had concerns that their employer was either conducting itself illegally, immorally, damaging the environment, or was deliberately covering up such conduct.

Anybody who’s made a ‘protected disclosure’ against an employer will know that it’s tough and unforgiving and will be aware that in response, they will be ignored, targeted and / or vilified, rather than being valued, celebrated and championed.  And many will experience further detriment, because suddenly they may find themselves unemployed and at the mercy of the DWP.  In truth, they never felt ‘protected’ under PIDA because the Act wasn’t up to the job of providing that protection, and didn’t do what it said on the tin.

This is a situation in which employers, by contrast, are at liberty to take full advantage. Employer organisations tend to manage, process and pack whistleblowers off to employment tribunals, where the unfortunate whistleblower may suddenly find justice is out of reach – because they can’t afford the £1,200 fee that was introduced as one of a number of measures – by politicians (of all parties), with the long term intentions of reducing the caseload and watering down employee protections under the same Employment Act 1996.

Angela Eagle MP’s parliamentary voting record on such dilutions of the law would be interesting to view right now in light of all this.

Employers therefore continue to thrive directly from abuse, malpractice or even criminal malfeasance in public office in the absence of legislation written with the clear purpose of protecting employees and deterring foul employer conduct – because they know they enjoy carte blanche to get away with it again and again and again.

To qualify for the stated ‘protection’ under PIDA, whistleblowers need to fit the description of ‘worker’ under the Act, and this is where we will expand more on our misgivings; particularly the dubious idea that all 17 persons could be described as ‘workers’ let alone ‘whistleblowers’.

‘Protection’ as a whistleblower would not arrive for members of a hotch-potch group of politically-motivated persons with a clear axe to grind.  Any suspicion of a collective, underhand desire to promote Angela Eagle – which later became Owen Smith – and diminish Jeremy Corbyn via nefarious means, regardless of the people involved, would not add value to any claim. 

This is important, because we believe it is misguided and plain wrong for Angela Eagle MP, along with her sympathetic media, to publish a story which appears to claim the moral high ground on such serious allegations, yet is inaccurate because 17 complainants have not been described as such and have had their status unfairly enhanced / elevated to the more eye-catching ‘whistleblowers’, in the hope of attracting sympathy from the reading public.

We’ve already witnessed inaccurate content in the media where Angela Eagle is concerned – for example, the “Angela Eagle Office Window” that was never broken – with unretracted, unacknowledged, un-apologised for falsehoods now peppering a dozen large circulation newspapers.  We were hopeful that lessons had been learned.  Sadly this never happened.

Furthermore, protection such as that afforded to genuine whistleblowers will not be granted to individuals or a group who’ve rushed to the media when the first opportunity came to publicise their ‘plight’.  Modern employers have in place policies and procedures, often drawn up in consultation with unions, which invariably state that complainants and whistleblowers should not expect to be able to approach the press early on, publishing ‘warts and all’, and must comply by exhausting all internal avenues of complaint.

It’s noticeable that Angela Eagle has remained aloof from the collective allegations and has not personally lodged any complaint herself.  If we were members of the group of complainants, we would be viewing such behaviour with suspicion.  After all, hard-nosed politicians are well-practised at standing back and using others to get what they want.  Are the Eagle 17 fully aware of what they may be involving themselves in here?

What level of loyalty is required to act as a guinea pig in the advancement of another person’s interests?  Blind faith, or just sheer naiveté?  Will any misplaced trust be repaid if and when things go drastically wrong?

We have no reason to believe that the Labour Party isn’t a modern employer with fully-developed policies and procedures who will aim to deal with these allegations appropriately (getting a bit shaky now, this statement), but our misgivings about the rash conduct of Angela Eagle and that of the Eagle 17 – the alleged ‘whistleblowers’ – are growing by the day.

Further related reading

Timeline to Wallasey CLP Suspension

Angela Eagle’s supporters have been discovered telling lies about Wallasey CLP Vice Chair Paul Davies

About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
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16 Responses to Angela Eagle’s 17 whistleblowers – The Eagle 17 – Are they REAL?

  1. johnarudkin says:

    Whistleblowing is a farce.
    In theory, it makes sense…but in reality, it places to reporter in a highly exposed position with everything to fight for.
    You are correct… in most cases it is just ignored; until weight of evidence is attributed to claims, it is treated as a minor annoyance, and whistleblowers are left feeling as though they are at fault.

    Potential fraud, theft, data security… all suddenly become worth defendable to limit any potential disruption. Some Councils have been shown to actually use yet more disreputable means, such as ‘gagging’ and payoff without any apparent recourse. They seem willing to destroy careers simply to protect perpetrators.

    This is sad.

    Honesty, courage…? I too want to see that happen – and if you want to see the commitments look no further than those who report; as you want to see change, so do I, but it will not happen without persistence and a willingness to be ‘in the line of fire’, and that should be where protection kicks in.
    After a period of 5 years trying to get a recognition to the possibility of fraud, illegal procurement processes and the theft of equipment marked along the way by deception, deviance and lies, rejection, ridicule and unemployment I hang onto the most positive statement from the Government Internal Audit Team:
    ” I have checked with DCLG and it is still their intention to visit Blackpool CC.”
    Why, oh why can’t the truth and a respect for those things that should be of public interest (because they waste huge amounts of public monies) be taken seriously?

  2. l8in says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  3. Oh dear. I wonder how this will go down in Wallasey?
    Like a lead balloon I expect.
    It’s getting ‘curiouser and curiouser’ by the day!

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  5. bobby47 says:

    Isn’t it strange how an embattled and cornered fallen political figure, who of course is driven by a noble cause and an unquenchable passion to serve others rather than themselves and their own personal vanity, can pull a much respected and good, kind and well meaning label like The Whistleblower out of the air, shape, mould and fit it to their own political damage limitation exercise and use the term Whistleblower to its fullest possible potential in order to sell the idea that the sinner is actually the victim?
    And, what’s more, just to make sure that everyone can fully grasp just how big a victim this political figure is, a frighteningly high and extremely hard to ignore number of seventeen is thrown into the recipe that’ll probably convince most who’ve had a full frontal lobotomy that seventeen whistleblowers can’t be all wrong.
    I mean, which figure is the most convincing? One or two? I know which one I’d choose if I was in desperate need of help and future credibility. The higher the better as far as I’m concerned. In fact, thinking about it some more, perhaps Angela should have gone for a number higher than seventeen. If I read two identical tales of woe, designed and intended to convince me one way or the other, I’d have gone with the largest number. It’s plain and simple. Seventeen is a lot better and more convincing than a lesser and lower number, whereas, a number higher than seventeen, say, thirty six for example, is more convincing than twenty one or even thirty five.
    Course, if you take this logic to its natural conclusion and take notice of those that are your political advisors who’s job it is to salvage your reputation after the stabbing of Jeremy, you could end up with thousands of Whistleblowers who you could reasonable describe as a huge crowd of dubious witnesses who’ve probably been paid for and easily be described as very unreliable witnesses with a questionable hidden agenda.
    Given that I’ve got to know, admire and become friendly with a few Whistleblowers, I ain’t so sure they’d be happy to have their hard won and often painful label of Whistleblower pinned to the chest of anybody who just happened to have a personal or political loyalty to the original sinner who now is orchestrating the last chapter of their political memoir titled, ‘I shouldn’t have stabbed Jeremy’.

  6. concernedkev says:

    Free the EAGLE 17 they were not responsible for the Spanish Inquisition. Go to 38% (now there’s a number) and sign the petition for clemency on the grounds they had their arms twisted by a Trotterite .

  7. Adrian says:

    Thoughts about the PIDA.. . It only has any effect if the person claiming to have reported malpractice primarily claims that their employer has retaliated against them for doing so. Have these 17 “whistleblowers” been sacked or demoted or capriciously suspended from paid work for their employer, for reporting malpractice? Also, whistleblowing to the media requires the information they disclose to be factually correct, rather than just a “reasonable belief”. Has anyone disclosed anything to the press other than the claim that there are 17 whistleblowers? If not, then the latter is just innuendo, tittle tattle, meaningless banter designed to weave a web of intrigue. If there’s no detriment or dismissal, there’s no legal basis for a whistleblowing claim. Of course, some people report malpractice and get recognised and rewarded, but they dont get referred to as “whistleblowers” because that term is much most commonly appropriated to those whose “reward” for courage is scapegoating and bullying. I’ll have to re read the blog now because I cant remember what it was they were supposed to have reported, or to whom, or with what dire consequences.

    • Wirral In It Together says:

      None of the 17 have been or will be sacked. As far as I can see the vast majority would not qualify as ‘workers’ under PIDA regardless, and appear to hold positions in sympathy with the NEC or secretariat of the Labour party, their employer, so would be unlikely to be sacked as a result of complaining. I say complaining because it is not whistleblowing. If we start from the position that they are NOT whistleblowers, everything else falls into place.

      It’s a shame that the press, in this case The Guardian and Liverpool Echo (owners Trinity Mirror – sympathetic with the Eagle, now Owen Smith camp) went ahead and printed hearsay, not facts. However, they too have a political axe to grind in concert with the bogus whistleblowers.

      A friend who knows whistleblowing inside out having lived it to an intense degree described this situation as ‘a conspiracy to harm’. That is the most succinct description I’ve seen and trumps anything I’ve written above.

      It is not a complaint against an employer but an ill-judged and malicious attack at persons of a new, different, popular and emerging political movement that the complainants (and the vested interests in their sympathetic media) regard as a threat and want to see eradicated by any means.

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  10. simplyshirah says:

    Can anyone tell me how NEC arrive at conclusion that brick through window WAS an attack on Ms Eagle, when even police couldn’t come to that conclusion? Can anyone enlighten me as to how Ms Eagle was homophobically abused at a meeting she didn’t attend? Moreover, how Ms Eagle was ever abused at a CLP meeting given the Chairwoman’s own daughter is gay? Is she saying that such a lady would support such attacks? See this: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/07/homophobic-slurs-against-angela-eagle-wallasey-ive-only-experienced
    let’s not forget Ms Eagle was applauding Mr Corbyn for his stamina travelling all around the country to get people to Remain in the EU, and then she stabs him in back, resigns – after she had her leadership blog posted – saying he didn’t try hard enough.

    Now this? As Jedi Warrior would say, “believe it, I do not!”

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