The Whistleblower's Handbook

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The Whistleblower's Handbook How to Be an Effective Resister

Brian Martin, The Whistleblower's Handbook: How to Be an Effective Resister (Charlbury, UK: Jon Carpenter; Sydney: Envirobook, 1999). Out of print from 2008.

This definitive manual for people who speak out in the public interest tells you how to assess options, prepare for action, use official channels, build support -- and survive the experience. And it is filled with sample cases that show what can happen when you make the wrong assumptions or take the wrong actions.

The wrongdoing you uncover might involve corruption, injustice, theft or danger to the public. What should you do? If you do nothing, the problem will continue, lives might even be threatened. If you speak out, you may be attacked -- more seriously than you can imagine -- and the problem may still continue.

Brian Martin's advice is based on his contact with hundreds of whistleblowers and dissidents, plus consultation with others experienced in the area. There can be no guarantees, but following his advice can improve your chances of success. Even if you never expect to challenge the system yourself, this handbook can give you valuable insight into the dynamics of individual struggles and the problems other people face.



   1. Seven common mistakes 3 
   2. The problem    7 
   3. Speaking out and the consequences  10 
   4. Personal assessment: what should I do?  18 
   5. Preparation  23 
   6. Official channels  29 
   7. Building support  45 
   8. Case studies: considering options  65 
   9. Surviving  77 
   10. Whistleblower groups  82 
   References  87 

Quick reference guide

  • If you have a general interest in the topic, start with chapter 1. 
  • If you don’t know what to expect if you speak out, see chapter 3. 
  • If you are trying to decide what to do about a situation, see chapter 4. 
  • If you are planning to speak out, see chapter 5. 
  • If you are already involved in making a complaint, see chapter 6. 
  • If you’re up against a deeply entrenched problem, see chapter 7. 
  • If you want to become active and work for social change, see chapter 10.

                                 Seven common mistakes 
     Seven mistakes are commonly made by those aiming to expose wrongdoing: 
     • Trusting too much 
     • Not having enough evidence 
     • Using the wrong style 
     • Not waiting for the right opportunity 
     • Not building support 
     • Playing the opponent’s game 
     • Not knowing when to stop.
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