Constantine Cannon Hosts Event with Author Tom Mueller, Whistleblowers, and Advocate Groups to Discuss Why Whistleblowers Act
Happy New Year! Constantine Cannon’s London Whistleblower Group started 2020 inaugurating a brand new office location and hosting a seminal event titled “The Whistleblower’s Dilemma: Seeking Truth in an Age of Fraud.”
A Common Pattern Driving Whistleblowers?
Partner Mary Inman opened up the evening chatting with Tom Mueller about his recent book Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in an Age of Fraud, where Mueller traces the rise of whistleblowing by drawing from interviews with more than two hundred whistleblowers and the lawyers representing them.
Mueller noted his early fascination with the False Claims Act and explained the common pattern arising from his research: whistleblowers are “just trying to do the right thing” by standing against cults of secrecy, revolving doors, rampant conflicts of interest, and places where fraud is normalized as good business practice.
Mueller also highlighted the case of the Trump administration Ukraine whistleblower as typical, where parties under investigation do their best to shoot the messengers by tarnishing their reputation to deflect attention away from the core misconduct allegations. Both Mueller and Inman agreed that a whistleblower’s motivations are ultimately irrelevant.
Whistleblowers Share the Personal Toll of Whistleblowing
The evening continued with Mueller and Inman joining a panel moderated by Anna Myers of Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) and featuring:
- Wachovia Bank whistleblower Martin Woods, who exposed the laundering of millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels.
- Halifax Health Medical Center whistleblower Elin Baklid-Kunz, who exposed the hospital’s wayward ways in how it compensated certain physicians to induce hospital referrals and in many cases, unnecessary surgeries altogether.
- Liz Gardiner, current Acting Chief Executive of Protect, a whistleblower protection advocacy group based in the UK.
When asked about the personal toll of whistleblowing, Woods explained he was essentially “black listed” from working in the financial industry sector after his role in holding Wachovia accountable came to light, whereas Baklid-Kunz – one of the whistleblowers interviewed in Mueller’s book – noted the isolation she felt after blowing the whistle and how she genuinely believed her employer would take action and fix the problems she had raised.
Baklid-Kunz also highlighted that whistleblowers often hope someone else will fix the situation, but as she said: “Sometimes it has to be you.”
Gardiner emphasized the need to make a business case for whistleblowing, noting they are “risk managers,” whereas Inman pointed out that whistleblowers should be seen as assets and not liabilities, as neither saints nor villains, just ordinary people trying to do their job.
Among the attendees were Brittany Kaiser, formerly of Cambridge Analytica, who was in town for a screening of BAFTA-nominated Netflix documentary The Great Hack at the UK Parliament, as well as Martin Bright, the journalist who aided Iraq war whistleblower Katherine Gun and whose story is told in the recent film Official Secrets, starring Keira Knightley.
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