Parrhesia Inc

Advancing Whistleblowing

Ian Foxley

Founding Trustee and CEO

Ian Foxley is a retired army Lieutenant Colonel. In a 24-year army career he commanded a parachute squadron and 3rd (UK) Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment on operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as appointments in Counter Terrorism (Special Projects) and Communications and Surveillance equipment procurement in the Ministry of Defence. He won the Commandant’s Prize at the Army Staff College for a study which resulted in the revision of procedures governing general officer promotions and returned as a member of the Directing Staff instructing on Ethics, Command and Control, Communications and Electronic Warfare. He conceived and developed the concept of operations for Light Electronic Warfare Teams (LEWT), which have become the leading element in tactical signals intelligence in subsequent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. His charitable work has resulted in the construction and running of a school in Khalte, a remote village in Nepal, which traditionally supplies recruits to the Brigade of Gurkhas and support to a primary school in the Gambia with monies raised from a crossing of the Sahara in a pink and rickety Citroen Deux Chevaux.

His 15 years in commercial life, as a Procurement Project Manager, culminated as Programme Director for an Airbus Group subsidiary in a £1.96 billion UK Government project to modernise defence communications for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. In 2010, at great personal and professional risk, he blew the whistle after discovering secret payments to ‘additional’ sub-contractors in the Cayman Islands. His disclosures, and absolute commitment over the past ten years, directly initiated wider investigations into Airbus Group resulting in the largest fine (£3.6 billion) ever imposed on a commercial company under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement in the world. The direct benefit to the UK Exchequer has been over £900 million along with a significant, and globally acknowledged, success to UK law enforcement in the fight against corruption.

He co-founded Whistleblowers UK in 2012 as a whistleblower support group, and acted as Chairman until 2015, establishing the whistleblowing study programme at the annual Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime. He has contributed and co- ordinated responses to national consultations (Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCOBS), the Business Innovations and Skills Departmental Consultation on Whistleblowing, the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Act 2015, PCAW’s Whistleblowing Commission, the Independent Review of Whistleblowing in the NHS (Freedom to Speak Up), the Home Office Review of the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy,  and the Independent Review of the Financial Reporting Council. Most recently, he gave written evidence to the Public Accounts Committee’s investigation into Whistleblowing in the Civil Service. He founded Parrhesia Inc in 2021 to focus whistleblowing research into evidence for policymakers to effect changes and improvements to whistleblower protection and organisational response.

He is currently a member of the British Standards Institute (BSI) Standards Committee Panel on Whistleblowing and a research panel advisory member for an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) research project on ‘Post-disclosure Survival Strategies: Transforming whistleblower experiences’. In 2017, he completed an MA in Applied Human Rights, researching the application of whistleblowers’ experiences to Human Rights Defenders. He was awarded his PhD at the University of York on 19th July 2023,  exploring the mechanisms and root causes that prevent people from Speaking Up.  His research thesis entitled: ‘Contextualising Whistleblowing in State Institutions’ is uploaded to the White Rose Etheses Online repository where it can be publicly accessed.  His book ‘Reproducing Silence in a Major Corruption Scandal – why people do NOT speak up’ is due publication by Palgrave Macmillan in late 2024. 

He remains a firm champion for the greater protection of those who take the courageous step of speaking up about wrongdoing in the honest belief that such values are worth fighting for.