Annie Machon was an MI5 officer when she became concerned about institutional failings in her workplace in 1997. Her best-selling book on the subject, “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5, MI6 and the Shayler Affair” was published in 2005. In an article for Natwest Business Sense, she explains how it could all have worked out differently, for her and her former employer – and why whistleblowers are good for business.
Annie believes that in a “don’t rock the boat, and just follow orders” environment there is no ventilation, no accountability and no staff federation. Consequently, this leads to a general consensus – a bullying “group think” mentality, which in turn can lead to mistakes being covered up rather than lessons learned, and then potentially down a dangerous moral slide.
She notes that this isn’t just applicable in the world of intelligence; in other sectors of work mistakes can be just as life threatening and the need for exposure just as great. However, Annie contends that “if employers institute a culture of trust and accountability, where employees with concerns can be fairly heard, the appropriate action taken, and justice done, the needs and imperatives behind whistleblowing would disappear.
Annie concludes by saying that “potential problems could be nipped in the bud, improving public trust and confidence in the probity of the organisation and avoiding all the bad publicity following a whistleblowing case.”
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