An interview with Antoine Deltour, one of the two whistleblowers who caused the “LuxLeaks” scandal and winner of the SOLIDAR Silver Rose Special Award 2018. Following his appeal, the Luxembourg Court of Cassation decided, in mid-January, to overturn his conviction, recognising his status as a whistleblower.
An opportunity to discuss this status which still does not exist at European level will soon be launched at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by his compatriot Raphael Halet, whose cassation appeal was strangely rejected.
Interviewed by Alain Bloedt, Editor-in-Chief of the Progressive Post.
PP : Would you have gone to the European Court of Human Rights?
AD : I was mentally preparing to continue this judicial fight for years and expected to have to go to the ECHR to win the case. This decision saves me several years.
PP : Recognition of the status of whistleblower is the key. Do you think it can be implemented soon
AD : I observe that the debate has come a long way. If it is too early to come to a conclusion because certain provisions only came into force on 1st January 2018. In France, for example, a whistleblower law provides for criminal immunity according to a certain number of criteria, with an established procedure.
PP : But does the law have to be European?
AD : The debate has come a long way and our representatives, the MEPs, have taken a stand and are pushing for the protection of whistleblowers. The right wing still has some reservations, but the report of the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs was adopted by a large majority.
PP : Is the European Union’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers shared by the other European institutions?
AD : We expect concrete action from the European Commission and a fight against the inertia of some member states. We must continue to maintain the pressure of citizens, to prolong this public debate to finally get a law passed at EU level.
PP : What would be the impact of a decision at European level?
AD : This protection would be much more direct. To avoid this long and expensive journey with a directive that directly protects whistleblowers.
PP : Is it so complicated to create a common statute for all whistleblowers?
AD : I understand that some parliamentarians and member states fear damage to the reputation of their companies. The challenge, in fact, is the defence of economic interests. For them, if we give too great a voice to employees or citizens, we risk highlighting practices that are supposed not to exist and we want to keep in the shade in the name of the principle of competitiveness! This debate on whistleblowers is similar to the previous one on business secrecy.
PP : If you’d known what was going to happen, would you have gone ahead?
AD : I know very few whistleblowers who regret their actions and that’s the case with me. I therefore encourage potential whistleblowers to take action. But of course, they must not do it irresponsibly and without thought. Beforehand, it is necessary to take advice from lawyers and NGOs that can help them.
PP : Will you continue the fight?
AD : Since the announcement of the legal proceedings, I have accepted various commitments such as, for example, public debates to continue to develop the reaction that encouraged me to raise the alarm. I have no reason to stop.
PP : Is the increase in the number of whistleblowers a symptom of a diseased system or the renewal of democracy?
AD : Both. The whistleblower is the last resort against institutions that have failed. This is the symptom of a dysfunction. But the existence of these whistleblowers also comes about thanks to more direct participation by citizens and to more modern means of communication which make it possible to reclaim this territory.
PP : What is the issue?
AD : Institutions must help this move. Companies have an interest in it. Organising internal procedures for whistleblowing allows them to deal with problems internally before reputations are impacted.
PP : One final word …
AD : I hope that the whistleblowers law will be passed so that we stop focusing attention on them instead of on their message. These lawsuits brought against whistleblowers in some ways serve to divert attention from the issue. Instead, we have been deprived of a debate on the substance: tax competition in the EU that is leading to a race to the bottom and the disappearance of corporation taxes.