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UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office failed to protect UK whistleblowers and turned a blind eye to corruption

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, June 29, 2022 / -- In proceedings brought before an English court [2200909/2015] by a former employee of the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (‘FCDO’) , it was alleged senior FCDO staff failed to protect or support its employees who reported criminal offences committed by staff of an international Mission to which they had been seconded by the FCDO. Judge Malcolm Simmons was asked to give evidence in that case on behalf of the Claimant. However, days before the court was expected to hear the evidence of Judge Simmons, the FCDO settled the claim and agreed to pay substantial damages.

In a related case, a UK Judge employed by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), was hounded out of office after revealing corruption in the same international Mission. Having reported corruption, the FCDO judge found himself subject to a disciplinary process. In those proceedings, the disciplinary board was selected by the very persons the FCDO judge had accused of corruption. In addition, none of the witnesses proposed by his lawyers was called to give evidence; witness statements submitted by his lawyers were ignored by the board. In fact, those witnesses were not even referred to by the board in its ruling. The FCDO judge was not permitted to be present when the board interviewed witnesses it had called to give evidence; instead, he was sent what the board described as a “resumé” of their evidence. He was not permitted to cross-examine witnesses; he had no opportunity to ask his own questions and he was not permitted to put any documentary evidence before the board. This was hardly a fair process you might think. Not so said the FCDO. It said the process was fair.

The UK Foreign Office has now disclosed documents that includes an instruction to the UK Representative in Brussels wherein it is stated the UK Foreign Office did not want an independent investigation into the allegations of corruption. However, the memo goes much further. It specifically states that, even if other Member States DO want an independent investigation, the UK Representative should argue against one. These were allegations of corruption that should have been the subject of a proper investigation – not simply summarily dismissed by diplomats working within the UK Foreign Office.

The allegations of corruption the FCDO judge made were investigated internally – by the very people he had accused of corruption. When the FCDO judge pointed this out to the FCDO, it responded that it saw nothing improper in persons accused of corruption investigating themselves.

Judge Malcolm Simmons said “The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office failed to support whistle blowers and turned a blind eye to corruption. Choosing to look the other way is not a defence.”

Judge Malcolm Simmons has called for a public inquiry in the UK into the failure of the FCDO to protect UK whistle blowers.

Malcolm Simmons
Edward Montague Associates
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