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Whistleblowing Research Unit

Whistleblowing is an issue of huge significance that attracts ongoing coverage in the national and international press. It affects both individuals - those who speak up - and organisations, large and small, and can have enormous ramifications from a legal and a business standpoint.

At Middlesex University, the Whistleblowing Research Unit (WRU), led by Professor of Employment Law David Lewis, carries out ground -breaking research in this field .The expertise of its members is frequently called upon, and was used to conduct the quantitative research for  Sir Robert Francis’ independent review of whistleblowing in the NHS 2015.

Members of the WRU supervise doctoral candidates who are working in this area and offer a 20 credit module to postgraduate students entitled International Whistleblowing Law and Practice.

The WRU runs the International Whistleblowing Research Network - with a global membership of over  200 people - and administers the annual Middlesex University UK Whistleblowing Award, which each year honours an outstanding individual who had the courage to expose wrongdoing within their organisation. Those wishing to nominate someone for this award are invited to email d.b.lewis@mdx.ac.uk

In the national Research Excellence Framework exercise 2014, the WRU submitted an Impact Case Study, 'Pioneering Whistleblowing Legislation and Practice', which contributed to a ranking of 23rd overall by impact in the Law Unit of Assessment. Professor Lewis was also heavily involved in the Business and Management Impact Case Study on 'Alternative Forms of Employee Voice'.

The WRU International Advisory Board consists of the following individuals: Wendy Addison (consultant/trainer on whistleblowing issues); Susan Assar (health management consultant and ex-NHS Trust CEO); Dr AJ Brown (Professor at Griffith University, Australia); John Devitt (Transparency International, Ireland); Gary Kirwan (Senior Employee Relations Adviser at RCN); Anna Myers (Consultant Adviser at PCAW & Co-ordinator of the International Whistleblowing NGO Network); Dr Sissel Trygstad (Research Leader at FAFO, Oslo); and Dr Wim Vandekerckhove (Reader at Greenwich University).

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The WRU does not provide a legal advice or representation service and is, in principle, committed to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Those seeking private conciliation, mediation or arbitration services in relation to whistleblowing issues are invited to contact Professor David Lewis.

Conference in June 2017

An International Whistleblowing Research Network conference will be held at Borggata 2b, Oslo 0608, Norway on 22nd and 23rd June 2017. The proceedings are being hosted by Fafo, an independent research institute for labour and social research, and will be financially supported by the Fritt Ord (Free Speech) foundation. A provisional programme has been distributed to network members and will be updated as and when necessary.

The standard conference fee is £250, doctoral students will be charged £100 and the unwaged, NGO’s and whistleblowers can attend free of charge. The fee includes lunch on 23rd June and refreshments during breaks between sessions. In addition, a conference dinner on 22nd June is being sponsored by Fritt Ord up to a maximum of 50 people. Dinner places will be allocated in the order in which conference bookings are made.

Delegates will have to make their own accommodation and travel arrangements.

Further information about this event can be obtained by contacting the network convenor via d.b.lewis@mdx.ac.uk

Onlinestore booking link: http://www.onlinestore.mdx.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/school-of-law

Recent consultancy/training projects

2017  DJust full- day workshop in Brussels as part of the formal consultation on the proposed EU Directive on  whistleblowing protection.

2017  OECD three –day workshop in Athens on whistleblowing protection as an anti-corruption tool.

2016 & 2017  Two training workshops for UCLH Partners on the practical implications of the Francis Independent Review on whistleblowing in the NHS

2016 Consultancy contract with the Irish Policing Authority to review and comment on the Garda whistleblowing policy/procedure.

  1. Independent expert on a three-day UN ODC Anti-

Corruption mission to Liberia.

2016: Consultancy Contract with An Garda Síochána to re-draft their Protected Disclosures Policy.

2015 Analysis of the responses submitted by nurses, midwives and health visitors etc to the Francis review of whistleblowing in the NHS. Funded by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Recent publications


Lewis,D. (2017) ‘Whistleblowing and the law of defamation: does the law strike a fair balance between the rights of whistleblowers, the media and alleged wrongdoers?’ Industrial Law Journal. Vol 46. ISSN 0305-9332

Kierans, Lauren and Lewis, David  2016 “Using statutory guidance and codes

of practice to build on whistleblowing legislation : the Irish experience” La

Revue des droits de l’homme [Online], 10 | 2016.

Kierans, Lauren  2016. “Full Disclosure” 2016 (June)  Irish Law Society

Gazette 36.

Lewis, David , (with Vandekerckhove, W).(2016)‘Trade unions and whistleblowing process: an opportunity for strategic expansion’. Journal of Business Ethics. ISSN 0167-4544

Lewis, David  2016 ‘Remove the obstacles that prevent BME staff from whistleblowing’. Nursing Standard.

Kierans,  Lauren.  2015.  “Whistle While You Work: Protected Disclosures Act

2014” (2015) 2(2) IBLR 31.

Lewis, D  2015 "Is a public interest test for workplace whistleblowing in society's interest?" International Journal of Law and Management Vol. 57. No.2 . pp 141-158. 2015

Lewis, D, D'Angelo, A., & Clarke, L, 2015. "Industrial relations and the management of whistleblowing after the Francis report: what can be learned from the evidence?" Industrial Relations Journal, 46(4), pp. 312-327. 2015

Lewis, David  2014 (with Fasterling, B) "Leaks, legislation and freedom of speech: how can the law effectively promote public interest whistleblowing" International Labour Review. Vol 153 Issue 1 pages 71-92 ISSN 0020-7780

Research reports

Lewis, David (with Clark, L and D’Angelo, A).2016. “Report of a staff survey on whistleblowing”. Middlesex University.

Quantitative research for the 'Freedom to Speak Up' independent review of whistleblowing in the NHS chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC. 2015. Prepared by Lewis, D, D'Angelo, A., & Clarke, L

Analysis of the responses submitted by nurses, midwives and health visitors etc to the Francis review of whistleblowing in the NHS. Research commissioned by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2015. Prepared by Lewis, D, D'Angelo, A., & Clarke, L

Books and chapters

Lewis, David & Vandekerckhove, Wim (eds) 2017 Selected papers from the International Whistleblowing Research Network conference . London, International Whistleblowing Research Network.

Kierans, Lauren . 2017  “Protected Disclosures Act, 2014” in Employment Law

(Bloomsbury Professional, Dublin).

Kierans, Lauren  2017 “The Irish Approach to Whistleblower Protection: The Protected Disclosures Act, 2014) in Les lanceurs d'alerte (LGDJ, France 2017).

Lewis, David  2017 “Eighteen years of whistleblowing legislation in the UK: are workers still inadequately protected? in Les lanceurs d'alerte. LGDJ, France/

Kierans Lauren and Kerr, Anthony 2017. “Protected Disclosures Act 2014,

Annotated” (Round Hall, Dublin). (Forthcoming December).

Kierans, Lauren and Kerr, Anthony 2016, Irish Current Law Statutes Annotated:

Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 (Round Hall, Dublin).

Lewis, David and Vandekerckhove, Wim (eds)  2015 . "Developments in whistleblowing research 2015". Ebook. International Whistleblowing Research Network.

Lewis, David (with Brown, AJ, Moberly, R, Vandekerckhove, W.( eds.) 2014. The International Whistleblowing Research Handbook. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar. E-ISBN 978 1 78100 679 5


2017                Interview on BBC World Service’s The World

Today programme about Chinese proposals on


2016                 Interview on Sky News about the

independent report into Jimmy Savile’s

predatory activities at the BBC.

Interview on LBC radio about the Public

Accounts Committee’s call for action

to be taken to protect whistleblowers.

Interview on Radio 5 Live Investigates

about the use of ‘gagging’ clauses in

settlement agreements.

Interview for BBC World Service Business  

Daily programme on “The Whistleblowing


Interview for Dennik P on the impact of

recent developments in whistleblowing laws

in Slovakia.

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