The official code of conduct for social care workers places a duty
on staff to highlight poor standards, abuse or a lack of resources
that may affect services. Certainly, the use of the term “using
established processes and procedures” is not exactly carte blanche
to call in the tabloid press. But the intention is clearly to
encourage a culture of openness in which shortcomings can be
identified and tackled.
This theme has been echoed at government level and protection of
those who blow the whistle on poor standards is now enshrined in
But that doesn’t seem to stop those who speak out when things go
wrong being dragged through the mire. One of the latest casualties
is Judy Weleminsky who was sacked from the board of the Children
and Family Court Advisory Service after she raised what turned out
to be well-founded concerns about that ill-fated and chaotic
She gave a frank account of its failings when she appeared before
the House of Commons constitutional affairs committee, refusing to
act “corporately” and keep quiet.
Weleminsky has now been exonerated by the Commons select committee
on standards and privileges. But is she going to get her job back?
It doesn’t look like it. And has she received an apology for the
shabby way she has been treated? Predictably, the answer is
She was the only board member brave enough to speak out and make it
clear she was aware that things needed to change at Cafcass. Yet
she was summarily sacked in the same way as board colleagues who
appeared less ready to face up to unpalatable truths.
What Weleminsky has been through not only deters people from
becoming whistleblowers. It must surely put them off coming forward
to take up key public positions at all. After all, why put yourself
through all that for an unpaid post?
If we want people to act in the public interest and feel free to
raise concerns we can start by listening to, and acting on, what
they have to say. When they put themselves and their careers on the
line we must not automatically vilify them as trouble-makers.
l See news, page 6