Employment Review: June 2015 - Public interest test in whistle blowing claims

The recent case of Chesterton Global Ltd and Anor v Nurmohamed is the first appeal case since the law was amended in 2013 and considers the issue of what amounts to a disclosure "in the public interest."

A director and employee of Chesterton Global Ltd complained to senior management that the company's profit and loss figures were being manipulated with a view to benefiting the shareholders. The employee alleged the inaccurate figures personally affected his commission payments as well as approximately 100 fellow employees who also suffered a similar loss. The employee was later dismissed and the Employment Tribunal upheld his claim that he had been automatically unfairly dismissed for making a public interest disclosure.

The employer appealed, claiming that there was no public interest and that the employee was mainly concerned for his private interests, being the impact on his own commission payments.

The EAT held that although the employee's own contract had arguably been breached, the matter complained about also affected a sufficiently large group to provide a public interest element. They added that the test is whether the worker making the disclosure had a reasonable belief that it was in the public interest. There does not have to be an actual public interest element, as long as the worker believes on an objective basis that there is


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