DAERA ask PwC to review its handling of concerns raised by whistleblower vet

Dr Tamara Bronckaers was given a £1.25m settlement

The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) has asked PwC to carry out a review of how the Department dealt with concerns raised in the recent Industrial Tribunal case taken by former DAERA vet Dr Tamara Bronckaers.

She received a £1.25m settlement and an apology.

Last year, Dr Bronckaers won a landmark action against DAERA relating to serious breaches of animal welfare and traceability within the meat supply chain.

An industrial tribunal found she had been constructively dismissed.

During the case, Tamara Bronckaers made two arguments in relation to legislative failures including that some Livestock Market Operators were not adhering to their statutory duties and responsibilities, and that Department officials were aware of this and failed to adhere to their responsibilities to enforce the relevant legislation.

Dr Bronckaers said failures involved deleting cattle moves under the Cattle Identification (Notice of Births, Deaths and Movements) Regulations (Northern Ireland 1999), alongside serious animal neglect and the movement of potentially TB infected cattle after they were purchased in a livestock market.

DAERA said the review will be carried out in two phases.

The first will gather information and evidence on the actions taken by those involved in the case. This information will then be assessed against the NICS Code of Ethics and relevant policies, procedures and processes for raising concerns.

The second phase will look at lessons learned and provide recommendations for improvements for the future handling of such matters. This will include the robustness and transparency of relevant systems, policies and processes, as well investigating and managing concerns that are raised by staff.

However, the review will not further investigate the concerns raised by the complainant as these have already been considered and addressed by the Tribunal. 

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.