Earlier this year in Chesterton Global Ltd v Nurmohamed the Court of Appeal held that a disclosure that was in Mr Nurmohamed's private interests could meet the public interest requirement if it served the private interests of other workers as well. The Court of Appeal have also considered the relevance of the employer's belief in whether a disclosure was protected or not finding in Beatt v Croyden Health Services NHS Trust that it was irrelevant.
In the case of Parsons v Airplus International Ltd, Ms Parsons made a number of disclosures to her employer about regulatory requirements she thought her employer was not meeting shortly before being dismissed. The employer did not accept Ms Parsons view and asked her to explain her concerns which she was unable to do. The employer also said the reason for dismissal was due to Ms Parsons rude manner and her inability to give cogent reasons for why she believed the company was non-compliant.
Based on the evidence heard in the Employment Tribunal it was found that Ms Parsons had only her self interest in mind when making the disclosures and they were not made in the public interest at all. The Tribunal therefore concluded that the disclosures could not meet the public interest requirement to amount to a protected disclosure. They also found that, in any event, the genuine reason for dismissal was Ms Parsons manner and attitude. On appeal the EAT concluded that the Tribunal were entitled to reach those conclusions.
The difference between this case and Chesterton's is the finding that Ms Parsons disclosures were made solely in her own self-interest. As the EAT pointed out in their judgement, disclosures can be made for many reasons, and as long as the public interest is amongst them then the disclosures will be protected. For that reason employers should not necessarily herald this case as a change in the courts approach to whistleblowing - the number of cases where a claimant cannot convince a tribunal that they had multiple motives when making the disclosures may prove to be few and far between.