UK judge fights for whistle-blowing protection

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UK judge fights for whistle-blowing protection

A whistle-blowing district judge who went public with her concerns about the justice system will take her fight to be classed as a worker to the Supreme Court after failing on appeal, says a Law Gazette report. The Court of Appeal ruled judges should not be classed as workers and are therefore not afforded the same legal protections as whistle-blowers. Claire Gilham vowed to fight on after failing at both employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal. The tribunals said there were adequate safeguards in place to protect freedom of speech for district judges, but that Gilham was an office-holder and did not work under contract with the Ministry of Justice. In the Appeal Court, the judges said: ‘It is also clear that parliament has used a number of different formulae in order to define the scope of protection of different pieces of employment legislation. It may well be that the line which it has drawn is open to criticism from those who are dissatisfied with the lack of apparent protection for them … Nevertheless, that is the policy choice which the democratically elected parliament of the UK has made.’ Gilham claimed she was ‘treated detrimentally’ after she raised concerns about ‘systemic failings’ in the court administration. Her lawyer, Emilie Cole, partner at Bindmans, said: ‘On behalf of our client, we maintain that the issue of whether a judge can gain legal protection against being subjected to unfair treatment as a result of blowing the whistle to be of great public importance. We disagree that this can only be remedied by Parliament and consider that it is now appropriate for the Supreme Court to consider this issue.’

Full Law Gazette report

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