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.

Martin Bright at the Freedom of Expression Awards

I am always blown away by the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards. But for some reason, last night’s event seemed to throw up an even more astonishing roster of award winners than usual. It was also good that so many were there in person. (In a surreal touch, Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes, was also there in person at a table he had bought for the occasion).

The Sri Lankan paper, the Sunday Leader, won the journalism award, which was collected by Lal Wickrematunge. Lal explained he and his brother Lasantha had started the magazine 15 years ago on a shoestring budget and distributed it from the back of a car. Unfortunately, Lasantha couldn’t be there because he was assassinated in January.

Ma Jian’s Beijing Coma, a novel about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, was the unanimous choice for the book award. In his acceptance speech the writer explained that ever since the atrocity, on the eve of the 4 June anniversary Chinese police visit the homes of former demonstrators with duvets and camp out to make sure they don’t talk to foreign journalists. What a weird and deeply sinister image of a repressive regime that is.

But I was particularly taken with the New Media award, which went to the creators of Psiphon, a software programme to allow internet access in countries where censorship is imposed. The programme, developed at Citizen Lab at the Univeristy of Toronto allows people in non-censored countries to turn any computer into an encrypted server. However, I did think the award should have gone jointly to Hossein ‘Hoder’ Derakhshan, an Iranian blogger who can take credit for a revolution in blogging in his country. In 2001 he invented a way for Persian characters to be represesented on the web. He was arrested for his activities in November 2008 and is being held in an unknown location.

Originally posted at The Bright Stuff

New Statesman apologises to Nadhmi Auchi

The New Statesman has apologised to businessman Nadhmi Auchi over a link posted on its website to previously published articles.

The apology, on the front page of the magazine’s website, reads:

We recently published links to articles originally published by others which made serious allegations about Nadhmi Auchi. A number of these allegations have now been withdrawn by their original UK publishers on the grounds that they contained significant inaccuracies and we fully accept that to be the case. We should like to offer our sincere apologies to Mr Auchi for any distress he has suffered as a result of our linking to the articles..