Advising companies on setting up whistleblower services has become a burgeoning industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement and a high-profile scandal at Barclays, with businesses spending up to £100,000 to establish services for concerned staff.
Demand for whistleblowing consultancies, dedicated call centres, specialist software and independent investigators has escalated after accusations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein – who has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and sexual assault in New York – and the revelation that the chief executive of Barclays had attempted to track down an internal whistleblower.
One law firm specialising in whistleblowing cases has described a “feeding frenzy” among companies keen to put stronger safeguards and structures in place for staff seeking to flag illegal or concerning behaviour. Mary Inman, a partner at the law firm Constantine Cannon, said the £642,000 fine imposed by the UK City regulator last year on the Barclays chief executive, Jes Staley, for trying to unmask a whistleblower has triggered a surge in business for companies that provide whistleblowing programmes.
“Jes Staley handed them all a big gift,” Inman said, adding that it forced companies to think: “Wow, we’d better take these things seriously.” She said: “It was a huge reputational issue.”