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    How not to get arrested with your boss

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    As Rebekah Brooks? former PA Cheryl Carter has been charged by the Metropolitan Police, a debate has ignited as how responsible PAs should be held for company actions. Here?s how to stay legally safe

    The News International phone hacking controversy rumbles on, with employees of a number of British tabloid newspapers being accused of police bribery and obtaining information by accessing people?s phone and email details.
    We spoke to Prolegal head of employment Adrian Hoggarth, and here he gives his specialist legal advice on how PAs can defend themselves:
    ?PAs should check their employment contracts. If there is a term requiring them to report the wrongdoing of others, then failure to do so could result in disciplinary action. If their employer has a policy on ?whistleblowing?, this may be part of their contract and they should comply with it.
    Ensure that any concerns are raised in writing so that there is less risk later that your employer will dispute that you reported them? says Hoggarth.
    Employees should exercise caution when making accusations, ensuring that they have sufficient evidence before formalising any allegations.
    ?If you believe that your employer is committing a criminal offence, breaching a legal obligation, risking people?s health and safety or damaging the environment, the law protects you from being disciplined or dismissed if you report it. Your belief must be reasonable ? there must be objective evidence to support it. However, as long as it is reasonable you will still be protected even if you turn out to be mistaken.
    If you are disciplined or subjected to some sort of disadvantage at work, and you can show that this resulted from the making of a protected disclosure, you will be able to raise this to protect yourself at a tribunal. If you are dismissed from your job, and you can show that the protected disclosure was the main reason for this, then your dismissal will be unfair? continues Adrian.
    It is also vitally important that your reasons divulging sensitive information are done for professional not personal reasons.
    ?Be careful that any disclosure is not seen to have been motivated by malice or personal antagonism towards a colleague. If it is, your employer might be able to show that your concerns were not raised in good faith and you could lose your protection.?
    A BBC story on the arrest can be found here.
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    AUTHOR

    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson