Marta Andreasen, the outspoken senior accountant who spoke out about the
parlous state of the European Union’s accounts, said whistle-blowing legislation
is ineffective unless backed up by individuals on the ground.
In an interview on Accountancy Age TV, the accountant-turned-EU
parliamentarian, said while UK legislation provided better protection than
parallel European measures, it needed to translate into practice.
“My experience is that it is not so much to do with the legislation, but how
it is put into practice,” she said. “I went through this experience and I never
thought the regulation was wrong. I always thought the application of the
Andreasen was suspended from her position as the European Commission’s chief
accountant after she refused to sign off on EU accounts in 2002.
She was later sacked after exposing failures and weaknesses in the EU’s
accounting procedures. She is now into her first term as an MEP for the UK
Her comments come in a month when the UK’s reporting watchdog, the Financial
Reporting Council (FRC), received the protection of UK whistle-blowing
The legislation offers employees protection from their employer if they
believe malpractice in the workplace is happening, has happened in the past or
will happen in the future.
The protected disclosure must refer to a criminal offense, miscarriage of
justice, threats or environmental damage and can only be made to certain people.
Last week the head of the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB),
which is part of the FRC, said the new measures would provide an extra “layer of
protection,” for complainants, but believes it would be of limited use overall.
Cameron Scott, head of the AADB, said because he often looks into cases after
they go public, the legislation would not be of much benefit. “The cases we tend
to take on haven’t come from any internal whistle blowing,” he said.
“What tends to happen is that, when we start investigating something, it is
generally made public… it does give an extra layer of protection though.”
Andreasen believes there are situations where it is simply not possible to
speak about an issue at work. “If you need to go to your boss it might be
problematic if the issue that you have discovered has to do with your boss,” she
She added whistle-blowers often are disenfranchised by their decision to
“If you see the story of whistle-blowers, most of the time, in 99% of the
cases, it ends up badly for the whistle-blower.”
IN OUR VIEW
The decision to “blow the whistle” must be a lonely, agonising one. The
government has made the right decision to back up these brave individuals with
statutory protection. It’s hard not to respect these people who stand on
principle, back their own integrity and have the strength of character to say
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