Section 15 – Ombudsmen may escalate disclosure to appropriate authority or Minister or investigate disclosure

(1) An Ombudsman may, with the consent of an employee who has made a protected disclosure of information to any organisation, appropriate authority, or other person in accordance with this Act,—
(a) refer the disclosure to an appropriate authority or to another appropriate authority if the Ombudsman considers, after consultation with that appropriate authority, that any of the circumstances in section 9(1)(a) to (c) apply; or
(b) refer the disclosure to a Minister of the Crown if the Ombudsman considers, after consultation with that Minister, that any of the circumstances in section 10(1)(b)(i) to (iii) apply; or
(c) investigate the disclosure if the Ombudsman considers that—
(i) the disclosure relates to a public sector organisation; and
(ii) any of the circumstances in section 9(1)(a) to (c) or section 10(1)(b)(i) to (iii) apply.
(2) Subsection (1)—
(a) applies despite sections 7 to 10:
(b) does not authorise an Ombudsman to act if the protected disclosure of information is in respect of the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
(3) If an Ombudsman makes a referral under this section, he or she must promptly notify any organisation or other person that he or she is aware may be investigating the disclosure that the information disclosed has been referred under this section to an appropriate authority or Minister of the Crown for investigation.
(4) A protected disclosure of information does not, by reason of an Ombudsman acting under subsection (1), cease to be a protected disclosure of information.
(5) Nothing in this section prevents a protected disclosure of information being referred under—
(a) this section on more than 1 occasion; or
(b) section 16.
(6) This section is subject to sections 12 to 14.

Commentary

This section deals with the powers of an Ombudsman with regards to whom he can refer disclosures to subject to provisions of sections 9 (1) (a) to (c) and section 10 (1)(b)(i) to (iii).

It also limits the power of an Ombudsman if the matter relates to the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.  It also allows a disclosure of information to be referred under this section on more than one occasion.