Official Secrets film sheds new light on Whistleblowing

Can a whistleblower remain anonymous

It seems to be true that no sooner do we create and release a new course than a new media event comes along and publicises it for us!

In a new film “Official Secrets”, Keira Knightly plays a real life whistle blower Katherine Gunn who working for GCHQ as a translator during the Blair administration of 2003.  The political climate was tense with both UK and US Governments seemingly intent on invading Iraq.

Gunn famously broke the law by leaking a classified email that urged spying on members of the UN Security Council to force through the resolution to start a war with Iraq. The plan outlined in the secret email allegedly violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which regulates global diplomacy.

As an employee of a Government Intelligence Agency Gunn would have been bound by the Official Secrets Act and would have risked jail for leaking any documents.

The decision that Gunn took would not have been an easy one – blowing the whistle on your employers is never straight forward but when your boss is Head of National Intelligence the stakes are high.

In the film Gunn realises that her personal safety is under threat as well as that of her husband but is helped by two journalists and her lawyer (played by Ralph Fiennes). Eventually when the case comes to court in 2004 it is dropped due to lack of evidence..with some commentators claiming that even British government lawyers believed the invasion was unlawful.

Gunn join a long list of famous Whistleblowers who have risked everything to expose wrongdoing. Our new eLearning course “Whistleblowing” looks at what whistle blowing is, what may be included in a whistle blowing policy, what whistleblower protection exists under the law and what steps this person may take when exposing wrong doing either internally or outside the organisation.

As it turned out Gunn was recognised by the pressure group Liberty and was also awarded the Sam Adams Award – an award given annually to an intelligence professional who has taken a stand for integrity and ethics.

To view a preview of our Whistleblowing course click here.