Martin Bright: whistleblower Christopher Galley should not be sacked

This is a guest post by Martin Bright

The sacking of Christopher Galley, the Home Office civil servant who leaked documents to the Conservative Party, demonstrates the golden rule in such cases: the whistleblower always suffers. As a serial recipient of leaks, I know this is defeatist talk, but journalists and their publications should recognise this as a fact.

The criminal case against Galley and his Tory ‘handler’ Damian Green MP collapsed this week. But Galley was still dismissed for gross professional misconduct. In times like these, depriving someone of their job is a serious matter, especially when it leaves a disciplinary charge on the CV.

This is a particularly vindictive way to approach a whistleblower, especially cruel when the information he leaked should have been in the public domain anyway. I don’t believe there isn’t somewhere in the vast Home Office bureaucracy that Galley could have been found a job (well away from confidential documents if necessary).

The same is true of Derek Pasquill, the Foreign Office whistleblower who leaked details of the government’s relationship with radical Islam to me. Derek was also dismissed, despite the immense service he did to the country and the government (its policy changed as a direct result of his disclosures).

I believe there is a duty of care on the part of those who directly benefit from the work of whistleblowers towards those who have taken risks on their behalf. Derek Pasquill is fighting his dismissal, and I believe the New Statesman, the Observer and the think tank Policy Exchange (the publishers of his allegations), should help him with his legal costs.

The same is true for the Conservative Party in this case, which should help Christopher Galley back into employment immediately.

Credit crunch censorship

Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne very nearly lost his job recently after he was accused of ‘talking down’ the pound. He’s managed to ride the storm, but it was a close-run thing. Osborne should of course be able to say what he likes, but it’s not exactly a free speech issue, is it?

In Latvia, however, things are a little different. Journalist Juris Kaza got in touch to tell us of the case of Dmitrijs Smirnovs, a lecturer in accounting and finance, who, in the same week as Osborne found himself in hot water, actually found himself in jail after making critical remarks about the Latvian banking system in a panel discussion organised by newspaper Ventas Balss.

Smirnovs said that excessive lending, largely by Swedish-owned banks, had put Latvia in a precarious position and it was his opinion that people shouldn’t keep their money in banks nor in Latvian lats. According to press reports, police are preparing criminal proceedings against him for spreading false information that could destabilise the Latvian financial system.

Smirnovs spent two days in custody after being arrested. He’s now out of prison, but forbidden from leaving the country.

Meanwhile the Mirror is reporting that Conservative leader David Cameron is ‘distancing himself’ from George Osborne.