UPDATE: This blog article has spawned a greatly expanded, regularly updated, mini-blog of its own:
Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers
Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists,
Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.
(and other political opponents of Gordon Brown)
by Spy Blog
(Tor Hidden Service)
The Home Office has been "dysfunctional and unfit for purpose" for several years now. It is only recently that the mainstream media has started reporting how bad things actually are.
The "crisis" seems to be fuelled by revelations in the newspapers and the broadcast media, e.g.
Sunday Times: Focus: Home Office in meltdown
The Guardian: Unfit or unfair: was Reid right about the Home Office?
However the Home Office Public Relations spin and disinformation machinery seems to be carrying on regardless, according to The Guardian: Home Office still burying bad news, say reporters
A couple of UK political bloggers are actively soliciting , or have commented on the likelihood of further "leaks" from disgruntled Home Office Civil Servants i.e. not the usual spin doctor briefings and "Whitehall sources" stories planted in the weekend newspapers, ahead of a policy announcement in Parliament, but actual examples of even more incompetence and bad management from whistleblowers elsewhere in the bureaucracy.
Guido Fawkes: The Truth Is Out There : Tell It!
Ian Dale's Diary: Why the Home Office Will Leak Like a Sieve
Ian Dale suggests that whistleblowers may be contacting the Shadow Home Secretary David Davis by email ,
Now, what was that email again? davisd AT parliament dot uk, I seem to remember.
This is something which was done before the Beverly Hughes resignation as Secretary of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality back in 1994, when David Davis was contacted by whistleblowers Steve Moxon in Sheffield and and James Cameron in Bucharest. This episode boosted the political career of David Davis.
However, we asked at the time,
Is the Shadow Home Secretary's email being monitored ?
Our questions about whether or not the 40 year old Wilson Doctrine about "not tapping MPs telephones", has been updated and whether or not it also applies to their mobile phones, faxes and electronic mail, none of which existed when the Wilson Doctrine was uttered in 1966, remain unanswered.
Steve Moxon and James Cameron found that the supposed protections for whistleblowers under employment law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 did not seem to help them very much.
Our own experiences of the unfair treatment of a rightly disgruntled Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate Field Intelligence Officer bear this out. He was , apparently suspended from duty for contacting Spy Blog with details of his case, under the terms of the Civil Service Code, which forms part of the contract of employment for civil servants.
The fact that this Code is breached every week by Ministers, their Special Advisors, lobbyists, spin doctors etc.
"the duty not to use public resources for party political purposes, to uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service, and not to ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code;"
does not make the experience any the less stressful for more junior staff who act as whistleblowers.
"10 Civil servants should not without authority disclose official information which has been communicated in confidence within the Administration, or received in confidence from others. Nothing in the Code should be taken as overriding existing statutory or common law obligations to keep confidential, or to disclose, certain information. They should not seek to frustrate or influence the policies, decisions or actions of Ministers, Assembly Secretaries or the National Assembly as a body by the unauthorised, improper or premature disclosure outside the Administration of any information to which they have had access as civil servants.
Many UK political bloggers are willing to publish controversial or leaked Government documents or memos e.g. all those who offered to Publish the Bomb Al-Jazeera Memo. However, if any of them should be lucky or unlucky enough to actually be the first people to be contacted by a Government whistleblower, they have an ethical duty to protect the identity of their "journalistic source".
This can be a quite difficult, especially if the Government wastes our taxpayers' money on a large scale "leak inquiry", as they have done in the past.
Spy Blog's hints and tips for Home Office (or other Government or corporate) whistleblowers, UK political bloggers and the media: - admittedly these are slightly paranoid, but unfortunately necessary to at least consider, if you plan to shame this media obsessed Labour Government, by becoming a whistleblower:
See our new Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers mini-blog - Technical Hints and Tips for the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers