African airline turns to ex-Clyde & Co whistleblower partner for GC

Former Clyde & Co partner Krista Bates van Winkelhof, who claimed she was dismissed from the firm for blowing the whistle on a colleague, is joining African airline FastJet as group general counsel.

Bates van Winkelhof is one of three senior appointments at the budget airline and is expected to join with immediate effect. She started advising the airline 20 months ago, after joining Anjarwalla & Khanna in Kenya. 

Before joining the Nairobi-based firm she was an equity partner at Clyde & Co, joining in February 2010 after Clydes acquired her then firm Shadbolt (19 November 2009).

However she launched a claim against Clydes after she was suspended by the firm in January 2011, a day after she raised allegations of bribery and corruption by the managing partner of its Tanzanian associate firm Ako Law (26 September 2012).   

Clydes, which previously failed in its attempt to have the case thrown out because it said Winkelhof was out of jurisdiction (14 May 2012), argued that she could not pursue a whistleblowing claim because she was a partner and not employed by the firm (11 March 2013).   

The Supreme Court gave Bates van Winkelhof permission to appeal the ruling, last month determining that LLP members are protected by whistle-blowing legislation (21 May 2014). 

The court held that Bates van Winkelhof fell under the second category of definition of a “worker” in the 1996 Employment Rights Act because she was signed up to the firm’s Members’ Agreement under which she performed services for the firm which was neither her client or her customer.

Bates van Winkelhof trained with Simmons & Simmons in 2001 before moving to Linklaters, Clyde & Co and Anjarwalla & Khanna.  

The group’s interim chairman Ed Winter said: “Krista’s ppointment deepens FastJet’s legal and strategic capabilities across Africa and the UK as we expand our operations and continue to develop strategies against Africa’s complex legal and political background.”