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Whistleblowing: Meaning of 'Disclose Information'

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of EEF for preparing this case summary]

The EAT (Slade J) has handed down its decision in Cavendish Munro v Geduld, which is authority for the proposition that:-

  • to make a protected disclosure it is necessary to disclose information about a situation, i.e. by conveying facts. It is not enough to make an allegation. The EAT illustrated the distinction by hypothetical examples in a hospital scenario: 'The wards have not been cleaned for the past two weeks' discloses information; whereas saying 'You are not complying with Health and Safety legislation' is an allegation.
  • there is a distinction between 'disclosing' and 'communicating' information even though a disclosure can be made to a person already aware of information.

On the facts, the common scenario of a letter from the claimant's solicitor to the respondent complaining about his treatment - and provoking his dismissal - did not contain a disclosure, and therefore there was no protected disclosure.