Lumb v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [2022]

Posted In: Case Law
  • Case Reference
    Case No: 2405382/2018
  • Legal Body
    Employment Tribunal (ET)
  • Type of Claim / Jurisdiction
    Whistleblowing (Protected Disclosures)
Issues covered: Whistleblowing; Protected Disclosure; Detriment

This case had originally been decided by the Employment Tribunal before an appeal to the EAT where it was held that the Tribunal had not fully examined whether a protected disclosure had been made by the claimant. The case was remitted to the Tribunal and this was their decision.

The issue related to a statement made by the claimant to his boss, a retired superintendent who had returned to head up the unit, in October 2017. The content of the statement alleged that the claimant’s colleagues were failing to conduct proper research into phone records, business records and GP records when it came to the review of gun licences. The claimant actually became so concerned by the practices in the team that he collated a diary of individual concerns. The claimant alleged that the notes that he was collating must have been read by his colleagues. The basis for this was that the notes were ‘poking’ from his briefcase. He states that following this he was faced with dirty looks, he was not given work for checking. He also outlined, which was accepted by the Tribunal, that he had been assaulted following a colleague tripping him up.

The Tribunal had to determine if it constitutes a protected disclosure. The respondent conceded that if the information was disclosed when it would be in the public interest. The Tribunal found that the disclosures which were made to the claimant’s boss did have sufficient factual detail to qualify as information. The issue was whether it was a disclosure which qualified for protection under the legislation (this would be Article 67B of the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 in Northern Ireland). The claimant outlined that it was on the basis that a criminal offence is likely to be committed. The basis of this was that the firearms, as a result of insufficient checks, could get into criminals’ hands and offences could be committed. The Tribunal accepted that the claimant did have this reasonable belief and this element of a protected disclosure was met. Accordingly, it was found that a protected disclosure had been made. As the issue of detriment had already been decided upon at the first hearing, the Tribunal then ordered that a remedy hearing be established to determine the compensation for the claimant.

Practical Lessons

This case demonstrates the particular aspects that have to be shown for a protected disclosure to arise. This was outlined as (a) information, (b) Belief of Public Interest and (c) Qualification through belief of criminal offence. By looking at it in this systematic way it will demonstrate whether the protection arises. It must also be remembered that it is whether the claimant had a belief of public interest and whether the claimant had reasonable belief that it was likely that a criminal offence would be committed. Therefore, such disclosures should not be looked through the prism of whether the employer feels it is in the public interest.

This article is correct at 11/10/2022

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Jason Elliott BL

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