On the face of it, the suspension of Sheffield civil servant Steve Moxon, from the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate, after leaking details to the Sunday Times, of a politically embarassing management failure and "unofficial" attempt to massage Immigration statistics, seems unfair. This should clearly be covered as a Protected Disclosure permitted under the
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, if , as Steve Moxon claims, he got no response from his complaints to the Minister Beverely Hughes, who in turn claims that she was not informed of his email complaint by a new personal assistant member of staff.
It is not unusual for whistleblowers to be suspended or disciplined for reasons allegedly other than because of their disclosures, but the truth of this will only come out should there be an Employment Tribunal (which is an area of legal expertise of Ms Cherie Blair QC, the wife of the Prime Minister).
Hint to whistleblowers: do not rely on email getting through to your senior management - also send a registered letter with proof of delivery (you can track this online through the Post Office Track and Trace website portal)
This case contrasts with the other recent whistleblower, the more photogenic Katherine Gun, whose was employed at GCHQ, which together with the Security Service MI5, the Secret intelligence Service MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ (for whom Ms. Gun worked) are excluded by this Act for reasons of National Security.
There is even more of a contrast with the claims made by former Cabinet Minister Clare Short, on February 26th, about spying on the Secretary General of the United Nations, a topic which seems to have slipped off the goldfish like limited attention span of the media and politicians. A week in politics is a long time, two weeks is, apparently, even more so.
The Liberal Democrats seemed to rebuff this whistleblower. Perhaps Steve Moxon's local constituency Member of Parliament, the computer literate Richard Allan MP will shed further light on this in his weblog ?.
The Conservative leader Michael Howard was eager to use this disclosure to embarass the Government at Prime Minister's Question Time
However, the BBC has now been making selective extracts fom emails apparently sent from Steve Moxon to the BBC Newsnight programme circa 2001 . Taken out of context, these email soundbites seem to portray Steve Moxon as having "extremist" views on Muslims.
The slightly longer extracts published by The Independent which put his comments on BBC TV to Guto Harri the BBC political correspondent, into a little more perspective. You can see that he was talking about the Wahhabi sect which is often erroneously associated with Osama bin-Laden and Al-Quaeda etc., and not about all Muslims in general.
Does this fuss seem familar ? How about the resignation of TV Chat show host and former Labour MP Robert Kilroy-Silk ?
What relevance do these alleged views have to Steve Moxon's credibility as a whistleblower, over an Immigration issue regarding applications by self employed Eastern European immigrants who are already in the UK ahead of the EU enlargement on May 1st. ? Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes has already had to admit in Parliament that the substance of Steve Moxon's allegation is in fact true.
Following the BBC email revelations, Gutto Harri reported that Conservative party officials were now no longer willing "to use this dog to hunt" with.
What is the BBC's policy on Data Retention of emails from members of the public ? How long do they keep them for, and did they ask Steve Moxon's permission to circulate them ?
Was nothing learnt by the BBC and by Government spin doctors from the Hutton Inquiry about the effects of intense political and media spotlights on otherwise non-public civil servants etc. ? What if Steve Moxon's health suffers as a result of this ?