Blueprint Whistleblowing Prizes

ABOUT THE PRIZES

Overview

Blueprint for Free Speech is to award three separate prizes to whistleblowers, in recognition of the sacrifice and bravery of those whistleblowers who come forward in the public interest (the Prizes).

Beginning in 2016, Blueprint will be awarding annual prizes to whistleblowers in order to:

  • raise the positive profile of acts of courageous whistleblowing; and
  • build public awareness of the importance of whistleblowers’ role in raising the ethical standards of society more generally.

Whistleblowing contributes to the operation of democracy by exposing wrongdoing. Motivations typically include contribution to the public interest. For those involved there is often danger, personal sacrifice, bravery and frequently official retaliation not always consistent with democratic values.

Blueprint is one of the few NGOs globally active in advocating for the legal protection of whistleblowers and whistleblowing, and particularly protections for going to the media. Whistleblowing is important both as an individual form of freedom of expression (the right to dissent from wrongdoing) as well as supporting freedom of expression via the media.

Blueprint Whistleblower Prizes

The Blueprint Whistleblower Prizes acknowledges the recipient’s bravery, in the face of difficult ethical challenges, to reveal the truth, and their desire to create positive change in society. Whistleblowers often face of retaliation from large and powerful institutions. Thus these three prizes were established:

  • The Blueprint UK Whistleblowing Prize
  • The Blueprint International Whistleblowing Prize
  • The Blueprint Enduring Impact Whistleblowing Prize

Each of these prizes are awarded for bravery, integrity and positive impact on the public interest in the UK (in respect of the UK Prize) or in one of more countries (in respect of the International Prize) or has a profound impact over time and geography (in respect of the Enduring Impact Prize).

We note that whistleblowers often commonly have a devotion to truth and freedom of speech, and a commitment to positive change. The whistleblower may also have also endured significant or sustained reprisal, demonstrated a willingness to risk their individual freedom or personal harm, and suffered significant personal loss.

While these are not requirements for a prize, they are useful for considering whistleblowers’ activities. The Blueprint Whistleblower Prize winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.

Special Contribution to the Advancement of Whistleblowing

In addition to the Blueprint Whistleblower Prizes, Blueprint intends to give special recognition to whistleblowers who have made a substantial contribution to the advancement of whistleblowing. Those recognised will be featured on our website, and each will receive a commemorative trophy.

Who is Blueprint for Free Speech?

Blueprint for Free Speech (Blueprint) is an internationally focused not-for-profit organisation concentrating on research into ‘freedoms’ law. Our areas of research include public interest disclosure (whistleblowing), censorship, right to publish, media law, Internet freedom, and freedom of information.

What is whistleblowing, and why is it important?

Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information about serious wrongdoing – (for example serious illegal activity, endemic corruption, fraud, or serious public health/safety breaches) where that disclosure of information is in the public interest.

It is perhaps the most effective anti-corruption mechanism available in a democracy – where information not otherwise known is brought into the public domain. It is also possibly the noblest form of the exercise of free speech – speaking out about wrongdoing when it is dangerous or unwelcome to do so. There are countless cases where those who have come forward have saved lives by exposing corruption, health hazards, environmental concerns, financial fraud, election rigging, bribery and other illegal conduct.

Why is Blueprint awarding prizes to whistleblowers?

Blueprint acknowledges that whilst the information revealed by whistleblowers is of vital importance, the risk associated with revealing information and speaking freely against powerful interests can be very high.

It therefore requires a remarkable level of bravery for someone to come forward and reveal information. Commonly, instead of acknowledging the use of exposing corruption, an organisation will harass or intimidate the whistleblower, terminate their employment or otherwise tarnish their reputation. In some cases, a whistleblower might face threats of violence or actual violence as a result of speaking out.

In recent years, a number of high profile organisations have revealed large disclosures or ‘leaks’. This is important. Yet, there are thousands of much smaller cases that go unnoticed, where whistleblowers bravely make their disclosure, suffer the consequences of reprisal, and go unrewarded.

Blueprint wants to change this culture so that whistleblowers are recognised as brave men and women who have sometimes risked or sacrificed everything for the sake of the public interest. This concept is almost universally supported in civil society and freedom of speech circles, but the goal is to extend this to general public recognition.

How are the winners chosen?

The Prize winners will be recommended and considered by a formal judging panel, the members of which will be appointed by Blueprint for Free Speech.

There will be no official nominations from the public for any of the prizes, however Blueprint welcomes contact from those who believe a person(s) are deserving of recognition and award. Some or all of these may be put to the panel for consideration.

Blueprint will compile suggestions for nominees for each of the prizes. Identification of the nominees will be through a rigorous process including, but not limited to:

  • intensive desk research;
  • examination of whistleblower court cases and documents worldwide;
  • outreach to whistleblower support groups;
  • outreach to relevant freedom of expression and anti-corruption civil society groups;
  • interviews with lawyers, journalists, and other people involved in the support of particular whistleblowers or whistleblowers generally;
  • extensive due diligence on nominations from the general public; and
  • media monitoring.

Once the panel has made recommendations as to whom shall be awarded the prize for each award in each year, those recommended for award must then be approved by the board of directors (by majority) of Blueprint for Free Speech.

The decision of the Board of Blueprint for Free Speech is final. Blueprint accepts no liability for failing to award anyone a prize other than the person(s) who has been awarded the prize. This includes:

  • any other person suggested by the general public;
  • any other person claiming to satisfy the criteria of the prize; and
  • any other person recommended by the panel appointed by Blueprint for Free Speech but not approved by the Board of Blueprint for Free Speech.

How are the prizes awarded?

The venue and manner of giving each Prize will be flexible, depending on the location of the award winners, the time of year, and any other relevant factors.

The prizes may be awarded at a prize ceremony or by any manner convenient to the circumstances of at the time.

What will be awarded?

In 2016 the Prize funds will total £15,000.

These funds will be equally divided between each of the three Prize Winners.

Each of the Prize winners and those who receive special recognition will receive their own trophy.