What to do if you are arrested as a whistleblower
Get proper legal advice immediately
Here in the United Kingdom, there are now some very repressive laws which could be used to legally harass, intimidate or actually arrest , prosecute, convict and imprison whistleblowers. e.g. Official Secrets Act 1989, Terrorism Act 200, Terrorism Act 2006, Counter Terrorism Act 208, Serious Crime Act 2007 etc.
There are some "public interest" defences but these generally only apply once your case has actually got so far as a Court or at least a pre-trial legal hearing before a Judge.
By this time you may well have been arrested, fingerprinted, DNA sampled, photographed, and had all of your home and business premises searched, and mobile phone and computers and paper documents seized etc.
The very first thing you should do is get some proper legal advice from some solicitors who are well versed in Police arrest and search procedure, human rights and data protection laws, legal aid and potentially long running legal appeals.
Say nothing to the Police or other "investigators" until you have contacted a proper legal advisor.
This also applies if you have not yet got to the stage of actual Police involvement, just an "internal" leak inquiry conducted by your employer.
Most people do not have the phone number of a firm of solicitors to hand, but whistleblowers, investigative journalists, and writers, bloggers and political activists should take the precaution of researching a few contacts, and keeping them in their mobile phones and address books etc.
N.B. as David Mery points out in the comments, you are unlikely to be allowed to use any mobile phones or electronic PDAs etc. if you are arrested, so you should also keep the contact details for firms of Solicitors printed out on a bit of paper in your wallet etc.
A couple of London examples of such reputable, expert firms of solicitors, who offer a round the clock telephone contact hotline (remember that you are likely to be arrested via a "dawn raid") :
- Bindmans - telephone: 020 7833 4433
275 Gray's Inn Road
DX: 37904 King's Cross
- Kaim Todner - telephone: 020 7353 6660
For general email enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 St. Bride Street
Tel: 020 7353 6660
Fax: 020 7353 6661
DX: 265 LONDON CHANCERY LANE
We welcome any recommendations of similar firms in other parts of the United Kingdom.
Get witnesses to record your arrest or any searches
Get a friend or family member to take notes, photograph, record or video (perhaps on a mobile phone) , as much of your arrest and / or search of your home or business premises as possible.
Post arrest media publicity
If there is a genuine Public Interest in your whistle blower leaks and revelations, then the mainstream media and online media publicity may well be the deciding factor in whether you are prosecuted or not.
The "shoot the messenger" tendency of bureaucrats, politicians and other people in power is as old as history, but they are less likely to do so under the glare of publicity.