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Academic Handbook Operations

Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy and Procedure


  1. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (the Act) gives legal protection to workers against being dismissed or suffering other detriment as a consequence of raising concerns which they believe indicate malpractice within the organisation.
  2. In response to the Act, Northeastern University London (the University) has put in place channels through which staff can express such concerns (the procedures) and emphasises that the individual (the discloser) expressing concerns, which they reasonably believe to be true, in good faith, should not be jeopardised as a result.
  3. The Public Interest Disclosure Procedure is also intended to provide guidance to students and employees who believe that they have discovered evidence of malpractice. It is not designed to permit the questioning of the business decisions taken by the University, nor may it be used to seek reconsideration of any matter that has already been addressed under any other University policy or procedure.
  4. For the purposes of this Policy, ‘students’ includes undergraduate, postgraduate and apprenticeship learners.

General Principles

  1. The University has a duty to conduct its affairs in a responsible and transparent way and to take account in so doing the requirements of funding bodies and standards in public life as set out by the Nolan Committee. In addition, the University corporately is committed in a demonstrable way to the principles of academic freedom and equality of opportunity which are embodied in its Articles.
  2. In return, the University has a reasonable expectation that all its students, employees, and members of the governing body conduct themselves in a manner which is consistent with and conducive to the maintenance of these high standards, as befits those who, at all levels, have a responsibility to fulfil in connection with the use of public funds.

Scope and Application

  1. The procedure is intended to cover concerns that are in the public interest. Such concerns may include:
    1. Financial malpractice, impropriety or fraud.
    2. Failure to comply with a legal obligation, regulatory requirements, or consistently with the laws of the University.
    3. Serious danger to the health and safety of the individual or the environment.
    4. Criminal activity.
    5. Widespread academic or professional malpractice.
    6. Miscarriage of justice.
    7. Attempts to conceal any of the above.
  2. The discloser must reasonably believe that their disclosure is made in the public interest. It will therefore not include disclosures that can properly be characterised as being of a personal rather than a wider public interest, for example a disclosure about a breach of the terms of the discloser’s contract of employment.
  3. Disclosers are normally expected to identify themselves and action will not normally be taken in response to anonymous disclosures. However, anonymous disclosures may be considered in these proceedings depending on:
    1. The seriousness of the issue raised.
    2. The credibility of the concern.
    3. The likelihood of being able to verify the circumstances via alternative, credible sources.
  4. If a disclosure is made in the public interest but the circumstances are not confirmed by subsequent investigations, no management action will be taken against the discloser, and any reprisal against, or victimisation of them, will be considered to be a serious disciplinary offence. If, however, a person makes a disclosure which they do not reasonably believe to be in the public interest and which was made for malicious or frivolous reasons, in bad faith or with a view to personal gain, such discloser may become the subject of disciplinary action.


  1. Students or employees that believe that any criminal offence has been or is being committed, or any legal obligation is not being complied with, should disclose the matter to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) immediately. If the person reporting the allegation (the discloser) believes the CEO has committed the offence, they should contact the Chair of Northeastern London Board of Governors (please email the Registrar or the Head of Quality Assurance to contact the Chair of Northeastern London Board).
  2. The University will investigate the disclosure and where possible, maintain the confidentiality of the discloser’s identity, if that is expressly requested.
  3. The discloser will be notified of the University’s findings following the completion of the investigation.

External Disclosure

  1. The aim of this procedure is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating and remedying any malpractice in the University. However, the law recognises that in some circumstances it may be appropriate to report concerns to an external body, such as a relevant regulator.
  2. Disclosers should normally seek advice before reporting a concern externally. The independent whistleblowing charity, Protect, operates a confidential helpline and has a list of prescribed regulators for reporting certain types of concerns. Their contact details can be found here.

Monitoring and Reporting

  1. The CEO is responsible for monitoring this procedure and reporting any disclosures and their outcomes to Northeastern London Board of Governors.

Version History

Title: Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy and Procedure

Approved by: Executive Committee

Location: Academic Handbook/ Policies and Procedures/ General

Version number Date approved Date published Owner Proposed next review date
23.3.4 May 2024 May 2024 CEO June 2028
22.3.3 May 2023 May 2023 CEO June 2024
Version numbering system revised March 2023
3.2 January 2023 January 2023 CEO June 2023
3.1 October 2020 October 2020 CEO June 2022
3.0 June 2020 July 2020 CEO June 2022
2.0 September 2018 September 2018 CEO September 2020
1.0 August 2017 August 2017 CEO September 2018
Referenced documents None.
External Reference Point(s) Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.