The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has paid Public Concern at Work (PCAW) £130,000 for wasting the whistleblowing charity’s time.
The Parliamentary Ombudsman found that the DTI had overturned an April 2000 High Court ruling over the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act in secret and had failed to consider the public interest among other failings.
PCAW director Guy Dehn told The Lawyer: “It does have important ramifications for all lawyers whose clients deal with government departments. The bureaucrats at the DTI are incapable of getting their heads around the issues at all.”
The charity went to the High Court to get information about employment tribunal claims which had not reached a conclusion. Mr Justice Jackson said that members of the public had the right to information about cases in the tribunals.
But the DTI then passed new regulations blocking the public from getting information about a whistleblowing claim until it ends in a formal decision.
The award is one of the highest maladministration awards ever paid, and includes £15,000 paid to the charity for “botheration” or distress.
Clifford Chance helped the charity calculate the damages it should be awarded. The firm’s head of public policy, Michael Smyth, is chair of PCAW.