Code of Practice on Public Interest Disclosure
The University of Bradford has a duty to conduct its affairs in a responsible manner, to specified
standards, in accordance with the requirements of various agencies, including internal and
external audit, funding bodies, standards in public life set out by the Nolan Committee and the
law, such as the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
This Act was introduced following much public debate and it is in the interests of ensuring that
issues are raised and properly addressed, at the same time as ensuring that the ‘whistleblower’
or discloser is not disadvantaged,.
The University, therefore, has a legal responsibility to respond appropriately when matters are
brought to light regarding any impropriety or malpractice and to protect the individual(s) who
raise such a concern. This code sets out the context in which public interest disclosure is
applicable and the procedure to follow.
Lord Borrie, QC describes a public interest disclosure in his essay on whistleblowing as ‘the
disclosure by an employee (or professional) of confidential information which relates to some
danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct connected with the workplace, be it of the
employer or of his fellow employees’.
2. Scope of the Code of Practice
This code applies to:
Trainees/vocational/work experience schemes
Lay members of Council, and the constituent committees of Senate and Council,.
This code of practice does not apply to those who are genuinely self employed
This Code sets out the procedure to follow if the person considers that they have concerns or
have information which they believe exposes malpractice, impropriety or wrongdoing. It is
recognised that the circumstances of each case will vary significantly and an individual may
consider that the most appropriate process to follow will be through the harassment, grievance
or complaints procedure.
This code sets out a procedure which seeks to ensure that the concern is treated seriously and
properly investigated and that the person disclosing the information is protected from criticism or
disadvantage for raising concerns genuinely held, even if they prove to be unfounded. Issues
may therefore be considered under this procedure even though they may have been first raised
under another procedure, however, the University will not reconsider matters under this
procedure which have already been properly addressed under another formal procedure.
Issues, which would be defined as legitimate areas of concern, would demonstrate that one or
more of the following has happened, is happening or is likely to happen:
financial malpractice or impropriety or fraud
a criminal offence
failure to comply with any legal obligation or with the Statutes, Ordinances and
Regulations of the University
the occurrence of a miscarriage of justice
improper conduct or unethical behaviour
academic and/or professional malpractice
the endangering of health or safety or the environment
the deliberate concealing of information tending to show any of the above
This Code of Practice is designed to offer protection to those identified above who disclose
public interest information provided the disclosure is made in accordance with all the following:
in good faith
in the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that malpractice
that the disclosure is made to one of the persons nominated below, in paragraph
The University will treat all such disclosures in a sensitive manner and have respect for the
confidentiality of the person disclosing. The identity of the individual making the allegation may
be kept confidential on condition that it does not hinder or frustrate any investigation. However,
there may be no means of pursuing an investigation without revealing the source of the
information, in which case this will be restricted to those people directly involved. The individual
making the disclosure is likely to be required to provide a statement, which will form part of the
3.3. Anonymous Allegations
It will not normally be necessary for individuals to raise matters anonymously and, given the
safeguards set out above, the University encourages individuals to put their name to any
disclosures they make. The University will, however, consider anonymous allegations or tip-offs
but the following factors will be taken into account:
the seriousness of the issues raised
the credibility of the concern in the context in which it arises
the likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources and the
practicality of conducting a proper investigation in the circumstances
3.4. Untrue Allegations
If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by subsequent
investigation, no action will be taken against that individual and the person will be protected
from any victimisation or detrimental treatment that could arise because of the disclosure. If,
however, an individual engages in slanderous behaviour, makes malicious or vexatious
allegations, particularly if they persist in making them, disciplinary action will be taken against
the individual concerned.
4. Procedures for Making a Disclosure
Individuals should make their disclosure to the University Secretary, in their capacity as
Secretary to the University Council, who has been specifically nominated by the University for
this purpose. The disclosure can be made directly to the University Secretary or through an
intermediary if, for example, the disclosure was initially made to another person or through
another procedure but it was considered more appropriate for the disclosure to be addressed
through this procedure.
The University Secretary will receive the information made available. At this point, the
circumstances and nature of the matter raised and the remedies being sought will be taken into
account in determining the course of action to be taken which is likely to be one of the following:
The University Secretary can immediately refer the matter to another appropriate
external authority such as the police or a professional body.
The matter can be referred to an individual with appropriate expertise and
seniority to decide whether there is a prima facie case to answer. They will then
decide whether an investigation should be conducted, and if so, who should
undertake the investigation, what form it should take and the scope of the
concluding report. Internal investigations will be conducted in a manner which
ensures that those involved in the investigation will be different from those who
may be required subsequently to conduct any disciplinary proceedings.
The report of the investigation may conclude that there is no case to answer or
that disciplinary procedures should be applied or that there should be some other
special investigation, either internal or external. If it is decided that more than one
of these means is appropriate, the designated person should satisfy themselves
that such a course of action is warranted, the possibility of double jeopardy
In some circumstances, with the agreement of the disclosure, it may be
appropriate for the University Secretary to liaise directly or indirectly with the
parties involved to seek a resolution. Should a satisfactory resolution not be
attainable through these means, one of the alternative courses of action set out
above may then be followed.
It may also be found by the University Secretary that the disclosure is not
appropriate to consider under the Whistleblowing procedures, or is a personal not
public matter, and so will arrange for the matter to be considered under the
The University Secretary will normally inform the Vice-Chancellor and/or the Chairperson of
Council that a disclosure has been made and the means by which it is being addressed.
In the event that an individual does not consider it appropriate to disclose information to the
University Secretary, they may raise their concerns directly with the Director of Legal Services,
the Chairperson of the Audit Committee, if the issue falls within the purview of that Committee,
or the Chairperson of the Council.
On receipt of a disclosure every effort will be made to deal with the complaint in a timely
manner. The individual(s) who disclosed the information initially will be kept informed of what
action, if any, is to be taken. If no action is to be taken the individual concerned will be informed
of the reason for this, as this can help understanding and maintain future relationships
If the decision is reached that there is a prima facie case to answer, the person or persons
implicated will be informed of the disclosure, shown the supporting evidence and be offered an
opportunity to respond as part of the investigation.
If the person making the disclosure is dissatisfied with the procedures followed or the outcome
of this process, they may take out a plea of grievance.
5. External Reporting
The aim of this Code of Practice is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating
and remedying any wrongdoing in the University. However, the law does recognise that in
some circumstances it may be appropriate for an individual to raise their disclosure with an
external body, such as a regulator. For a list of all regulators prescribed by the Act individuals
may refer to the Publications Section on the website of the Department for Innovation
Individuals disclosing information other than through these procedures or to an external body as
recognised by the Act, will have no protection in law unless there are exceptional
circumstances, for example, where the person has attempted to use these channels but has
been frustrated in doing so, where the person has a reasonable fear of reprisals being taken by
the University or of evidence being concealed or where the conduct disclosed is of an
exceptionally serious nature, e.g. where life is at risk.
In addition, the person making the disclosure outside the normal procedures must do so in good
faith, in the reasonable belief that the information and/or allegations are substantially true,
without the purpose of personal gain, and without committing a criminal offence.
It is, therefore, under special circumstances only that a person disclosing through the media will
attract the protection of the Act. If disclosure is made externally, without first using the
appropriate internal procedures, the discloser may be liable to disciplinary action whether or not
the issue disclosed is the subject of further investigation.
6. Monitoring & Review
The Audit Committee has the responsibility for implementing, monitoring and reviewing this
Code of Practice. The University Secretary will make an annual report to the Committee
summarising all disclosures raised and any subsequent actions taken. Any issues, which arise
when disclosures are raised and addressed which do not fall within the purview of the Audit
Committee, will be brought to the attention of the relevant committees and /or individuals.
JJ, Human Resources, August 1998
Updated November 1998
Updated May 2010