6/27 Update:  The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) will seek access to the trial of accused whistleblower David McBride, according to Commonwealth lawyers, who say the national broadcaster has expressed an interest in influencing orders affecting the trial.

Mr McBride, 55, was greeted outside the ACT Supreme Court this morning by a group of protesters supporting his case, holding signs with statements like “protect whistleblowers, defend democracy”.

The recent arrest of an Australian whistleblower and police raids on journalists’ offices have triggered movement toward stronger whistleblower protection laws in that country.  Another case in the Australian news is a reminder that whistleblowers often give up beloved careers to expose wrongdoing.

In one a recent case, a federal judge was quoted calling Australia’s whistleblower laws “technical, obtuse and intractable.”

From The Guardian:

Transparency campaigners have welcomed attorney general Christian Porter’s announcement that whistleblower protections will be strengthened, while urging him to establish a new whistleblower protection authority, create a compensation scheme and shield a broader range of people.

Porter on Friday flagged his intention to overhaul public sector whistleblower protections, in an attempt to make the system simpler and more accessible to government employees.

More from The New York Times on David William McBride, who is charged with leaking classified military documents to Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalists. McBride admits to leaking documents that led to a story on Australian special forces in Afghanistan.Continue Reading After charges, police raids, Australia looks to improve whistleblower protections.

Oranges and Sunshine is a new feature film scheduled for limited release this Friday, October 21, 2011. It is based on the book Empty Cradles by Margaret Humphreys (portrayed by Emily Watson), a social worker in Nottingham, England. Earlier in her career, it was her job to remove babies from loving parents. By 1986, she was leading a group therapy for adults coping with issues arising from their adoptions. Some wanted to find their parents or siblings. One discovered a brother living in Australia. Then another young woman contacted her claiming that she had been taken from her parents in England and transported to Australia where she grew up.

Connecting these two cases, Humphreys begins research that uncovers a decades-long British practice of exporting dependent children. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, upwards of 130,000 children were deported under the program, about 7,000 to Australia. Humphreys used her personal vacation to travel to Australia with that one woman who so treasured meeting her brother. While there, Humphreys continues her research into the child deportations.

Were this a typical whistleblower story, Humphreys would have received a hostile reaction from her superiors when she started raising concerns about a massive fraud and conspiracy by government officials. Instead, when Humphreys explains her concerns to her supervisor, the supervisor is upset that Humphreys had to use her personal vacation time for her investigation in Australia. The supervisor arranges to assign Humphreys to investigate her own concerns, full time, and starts raising the money to cover her salary and expenses for two years. This is a whistleblower fantasy. Our hero also has a supportive husband, and children who share only a few words about missing their busy mother.Continue Reading Oranges and Sunshine, a different kind of whistleblower story

The administration of Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, announced plans this week for a new whistleblower law to protect Commonwealth employees. In 2008, the Rudd administration asked Australia’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (the Committee) to report on its recommendations for a model whistleblower protection bill. A year ago the Committee issued its report.  Now the Rudd administration has responded. “Australia’s federal laws currently offer very few protections for public interest disclosures. The Rudd Government’s response moves to change that.” Out of 26 recommendations, the administration is accepting 10, accepting 11 more in part, and rejecting only four. The administration has announced that it hopes to have the final legislation enacted this year. Overall, the recommendations call on employees to raise concerns through proper channels, but recognizes exceptions in which going to other authorities or the media will be protected. If a government worker experiences retaliation, the law will call on the employing agency to correct it.  If necessary, the employee can go to the Federal Ombudsman for relief. The Ombudsman could call on the Federal Police for an investigation, and then order the agency to provide reinstatement and other make whole remedies.

Our colleague, Peter Bennett of Whistleblowers Australia, reports that the proposals provide some significant improvements (such as protection for going public in some circumstances), but still leave some areas unprotected (such as universities).Continue Reading Australian government makes plan for whistleblower protections

The Australian Law Reform Commission recommended that national security whistleblowers should face criminal sanctions only when their disclosures, "damage national security, interfere with an investigation and endanger someone’s life or safety." The Commission also recommended that a new law create an offense of unauthorized disclosure only in these circumstances.

Today Australia’s Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, tabled

[Canada] MacCharles, Tonda, Richard Colvin: Portrait of a whistleblower, theStar.com, November 21, 2009.

Talk to people who know Richard Colvin and a few key traits emerge. Driven, committed to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Knows his stuff. Takes copious notes. Sociable, yet discreet. Above all, discreet. Click here to read more.

[Vietnam] Huy, Dam, “Company chief arrested for having whistleblower killed, Thanhnien News.com, November 21, 2009.

Ngo Quang Truong, director of real estate investor Hoang Hai Ltd. in Hoc Mon District, was detained after the police caught four men involved in the murder: Bui Quoc Huy, Tran Van Khoa from the northern Vinh Phuc Province, Vu Van Luan from the northern Hai Phong City and Ngo Chi Huan from the Mekong Delta’s Hau Giang Province. Click here to read more.Continue Reading International Whistleblower News (November 23, 2009)

[Malaysia] Tsin, Yip Ai, “Whistleblower Act wins TI-M approval,” Malaysiakini, October 26, 2009.

Anti-graft watchdog Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has lauded the proposed Whistleblower Act, which will provide immunity to informants against civil or criminal action. "By putting in place the protection of whistleblowers, the government (will) promote integrity and freedom of speech, which are crucial conditions for democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development," said TI-M secretary-general Loi Kheng Min in a statement today. Click here to read more.

[UK] Chadwick, Edward, “Birmingham MP John Hemming gives refuge to Jersey whistleblower,” Birmingham Post.net, October 26, 2009.

A Birmingham MP has taken an on-the-run whistleblower into his home after he claimed asylum in the UK. John Hemming says Stuart Syvret will be arrested “over his dead body” after the former Jersey health minister holed up at his London flat. He is facing prison after leaking a police report into an aborted investigation surrounding the conduct of a male nurse on the island. Mr Syvret will ask the British Government for legal asylum and “protection from harassment” from the Jersey authorities. Click here to read more.

Previous post about Stuart Syvret in NWC blog

[Canada] “The Richard Colvin Case,” FAIR.

Richard Colvin was a senior diplomat posted in Afghanistan from April 2006 to October 2007. Starting in May 2006 he repeatedly raised concerns about the potential for torture of prisoners handed over byy the Canadian military to Afghan police. He raised these concerns to senior officials at Foreign Affairs and National Defence, copying 79 different people across government. Click here to read more.

Continue Reading International Whistleblower News (October 26)

[Canada] Perreaux, Les and Rhéal Séguin, “Montreal Mafia controls 80 percent of road contracts, whistleblower says,” The Globe and Mail, October 15, 2009.

The alleged plans for fixing bids among Montreal construction companies known as the “Fabulous Fourteen” were passed along by telephone, often using a code based on golf.

[Azerbaijan] “Whistleblower released from psychiatric hospital,” International Freedom of Expression eXchange, October 14, 2009.

Mahammad Gurbanov, a 55-year-old resident of Nakhchivan City who was placed in a psychiatric hospital by police on 11 September 2009, was released on World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, after 29 days in detention. Click here to read more.

Continue Reading International Whistleblower News (October 19)

Whistleblowers Australia (WBA), an association of whistleblowers in Australia, will host 2009 National Conference and annual general meeting at Aquinas College of the University of Adelaide from December 5-6, 2009. The conference theme is “blowing the whistle in the workplace.” Shelley Pezy, conference convener, kindly sent us the conference program draft. You can download it

[Australia] Thompson, Tuck, “Police whistleblower sent home, told to see psychiatrist, Couriermail.com.au, October 12, 2009.

A veteran officer who has exposed cronyism and corruption in the police force has been ordered off work even though his doctor says he is fit for duty. Sergeant Robbie Munn – who wants to resume his decorated 30-year career – says the service has a culture that deters whistleblowers from reporting “dirty little secrets”. The police force claims Sgt Munn, who has fully recovered from heart surgery, requires psychiatric help and has ordered him off the job for 18 months. Click here to read more.

[UK] Bowen, Innes, “Whistleblower says Army abuse not investigated,” BBC News, October 11, 2009.

Three High Court judges ruled that RMP Deputy Provost Marshal Colonel Dudley Giles “lacked reliability” when he gave evidence to an inquiry into claims UK soldiers mistreated and murdered prisoners. A whistleblower has told the BBC he was not surprised when he heard the judges’ comments. Click here to read more.

[UK] Curtis, Polly, Rachel Williams and Allegra Stratton, “Ofsted accused of manipulating Haringey report after Baby P,” Guardian.co.uk., October 9, 2009.

A leading MP demanded an inquiry after a whistleblower at Ofsted claimed an official report into Haringey council was secretly downgraded from “good” to “inadequate” because of the furore over the death of Baby Peter. Documents seen by the Guardian show Ofsted’s initial 2008 report into Haringey children’s services, then run by Sharon Shoesmith, gave it high ratings – three or four out of the maximum of four stars – in most categories. But in the key category it was later changed to one star – the worst, meaning its services were inadequate. Click here to read more.

Continue Reading International Whistleblower News