Saturday 19 October 2019

Justice ministry research chief quits after report on whistleblower failings

The head of the justice ministry’s research unit has quit following the publication of a report criticising the way complaints about allegations of interference in research into the ministry’s own soft drugs policy were dealt with.

Frans Leeuw stood down as head of the WODC after the report said both he and the justice ministry secretary general had been careless in handling complaints made by a member of staff.

Current affairs programme Nieuwsuur said last December that researchers altered unfavourable conclusions and rewrote research questions at officials’ request. The aim, Nieuwsuur said, was to manipulate the findings to ensure they supported existing policy.

Nieuwsuur based its findings on conversations with a whistleblower who made a complaint about the interference in 2014, and on internal ministry documents.

Report

The report, the first of three commissioned by justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus after the revelations, said that new protocols to deal with whistleblowers have to be drawn up.

‘The report shows that errors of judgement have been made,’ Grapperhaus said. ‘It is important that we learn lessons from this and take action. I consider a safe working environment to be in everyone’s interest.’

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