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Whistleblowing: The Manner of Complaining

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Thanks to Michael Reed, Employment Legal Officer at the Free Representation Unit, for preparing this case summary

When identifying the reason for subjecting an employee to detriment or dismissal, can a protected disclosure be separated from closely connected events?

Yes, held the EAT in Panayiotou v Kernaghan. Mr Panayiotou was a police officer. He made protected disclosures relating to other officers' treatment of victims. An investigation largely upheld his concerns.

Mr Panayiotou continued to campaign to make good the wrongs he'd identified and which, in his view, hadn't been rectified. This made him increasingly difficult and time-consuming to manage. In the end, he was dismissed, ostensibly on the basis that he had an incompatible outside business interest.

The tribunal were critical of the way Mr Panayiotou had been treated. They also concluded that the manner of his dismissal was a 'device', intended to avoid any outside challenge.

However, they also found that Mr Panayiotou's disclosures were not the reason for the mistreatment or his dismissal. They were caused by his campaign and his employer's escalating frustration. These events were related to, but distinct from, the disclosures themselves. Therefore, his claims failed.

The EAT upheld the employment tribunal's reasoning and conclusion.