Case 2 – Clare Sardari – UK

The Whistleblower:

Clare Sardari, Organizational Development Officer, South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

The disclosure:

During the recruitment process for a new diversity manager in her team, Clare takes notice of some irregularities: Instead of a thorough, team-based selection of candidates, she is presented with a small number of aspirants. During the job interviews, one applicant is so perfectly prepared that it almost seems like he had been coached.

When he is employed, concern is raised relating to his suitability for the position and also it is discovered that he is in a long-term relationship with the Trust’s chief executive’s daughter, Clare raises concerns with her manager. Suspecting nepotism, they approach the management of human resources, where they are being told to forget about the matter.

“The whole NHS stinks of fraud and nepotism.”

But they don’t. While Clare is being harassed and threatened with losing her job, her insistence on the matter to be investigated ultimately leads to an internal inquiry. When only selected people involved are interviewed by the external investigator and the results of this investigation aren’t shared with neither Clare nor her manager, the impression of a cover-up is undeniable. On the advice of her attorney, Clare claims constructive dismissal and detriment in court in line with regulations from the public interest disclosure act.

The impact:

Following an internal investigation that would most likely have led to a disciplinary hearing, Clare’s former Chief Executive, Ms Vasco-Knight, as well as the Head of Human Resources involved resign. Later, Ms Vasco-Knight is being accused of fraud. Investigations into her case are ongoing.

Clare’s case is amongst many that have contributed to increased awareness about the inability of the British NHS to protect its whistleblowers.

Fate of the whistleblower:

„How am I supposed to ever trust them again?“

During a remedy hearing after claiming constructive dismissal, Clare is offered a new position in the Community Trust along with an official apology. Shortly afterwards, the organization refuses to issue said apology. Insisting on all arrangements made in the remedy settlement to be honored, Clare withdraws from the agreement as well. A second remedy settlement costs her large parts of her pension.

Clare Sardari had served the NHS and Local Government for over 25 years. Today, she is unemployed and engaged in organizing weddings, funerals and other family events.

What else:

Clare Sardari actively contributed to the NHS initiative reviewing whistleblowing procedures within the service. The process, which was lead by Sir Robert Francis with regard to content, was supposed to significantly improve whistleblower procedures as well as protection for employees in the NHS. His investigation and efforts, however, did not yield the desired results[1].