Edited by A. J. Brown, David Lewis, Richard E. Moberly and Wim Vandekerckhove
Chapter 14: Whistleblower protection: A comparative law perspective
In this chapter, a programme for comparative legislative research in the field of whistleblowing is proposed, identifying research questions along two basic public policy objectives that laws typically pursue in the context of whistleblowing. One is centered on guaranteeing the individual rights of the discloser, with particular regard to the whistleblower’s freedom of expression, and the other towards a more effective prevention and detection of violations of the law and dangers to health and security. The following two prominent whistleblower cases may provide an illustration of how the law operates with regard to these two objectives. Robert Ferro was a scientific researcher employed at Aerospace Corp., a private research company that had a contract with TRW Inc. Ferro discovered in 1995 that electrical components for use in defense satellites were likely to fail. TRW Inc. sold the components to the US government. In 2001 the government experienced critical failures of satellites in orbit as a result of the faulty electrical components, but TRW did not disclose the research Ferro had conducted. TRW, meanwhile acquired by Northrop Grumman Corp., insisted on a non-disclosure agreement and refused to allow Ferro and his employer to disclose the negative results of the research to anyone. Ferro filed a qui tam suit under the US False Claims Act 1986 against Northrop Grumman (Faunce et al. examine qui tam statutes in greater detail in Chapter 16). The US government joined the lawsuit.
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