Section 19 – Confidentiality

(1) Every person to whom a protected disclosure is made or referred must use his or her best endeavours not to disclose information that might identify the person who made the protected disclosure unless—
(a) that person consents in writing to the disclosure of that information; or
(b) the person who has acquired knowledge of the protected disclosure reasonably believes that disclosure of identifying information—
(i) is essential to the effective investigation of the allegations in the protected disclosure; or
(ii) is essential to prevent serious risk to public health or public safety or the environment; or
(iii) is essential having regard to the principles of natural justice.
(2) A request for information under the Official Information Act 1982 or under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (other than one made by a constable for the purpose of investigating an offence) may be refused, as contrary to this Act, if it might identify a person who has made a protected disclosure.
(3) An Ombudsman may—
(a) provide information and guidance to organisations and employees concerning the circumstances in which anonymous disclosures of information may be made under this Act; and
(b) otherwise provide advice and assistance to organisations and other persons in relation to the duty specified in subsection (1).

Commentary

This section deals in the first instance, with placing an obligation on a person who receives a protected disclosure, to take all steps to ensure that the identity of the person making the disclosure is protected unless the person consents in writing to the disclosure of that information.  Or if the person who has acquired the information contained in the protected disclosure has reasonable cause to believe that by disclosing the information leading to identity is vital to the effectiveness of the investigation of matters contained in the protected disclosure.  Or that revealing the identity is vital to prevent serious risk to public health or public safety or the environment or it is necessary having regard to the principles of natural justice.

There is also a provision for a request made under the Official Information Act 1982 or under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, to be refused, if it might identify a person who has made a protected disclosure.  Another aspect to this section gives the Ombudsman powers to provide assistance and advice with regards to matters contained in this section.