Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni wants to take legal action against No 10 over outing by Theresa May’s aide
Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni says he wants to take legal action against No 10 Downing Street after he was outed by Theresa May’s political secretary.
Speaking to The Guardian, Sanni revealed he has “nothing left to lose”. He explained: “It’s been so much to deal with. I’ve had to cope with the repercussions on me and my family of being outed against my will and now I’ve lost the job. It’d be a lot for anyone to cope with.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s special adviser Stephen Parkinson came under fire last month after he put out a statement via Downing Street revealing the sexuality of former Brexit campaigner Sanni, who had come forward to expose alleged irregularities in the Vote Leave campaign.
Sanni, who volunteered for the supposedly-independent BeLeave group, named Parkinson as one of the Vote Leave officials who secretly guided their campaign in violation of electoral rules.
In his official statement released via Downing Street’s press office, Parkinson hit back by revealing that he had been in a relationship with Sanni at the time, claiming he had only provided advice to him as his boyfriend.
Sanni said the public revelation forced him to come out to his family in Pakistan, where homosexuality is illegal and strongly taboo – and has left his relatives living in fear of their safety.
Whistleblowers are protected by law under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, but on Friday (April 13) Sanni lost his job at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, an organisation founded by Matthew Elliott, the CEO of Vote Leave.
On being outed, Sanni told The Guardian: “I’ve actually tried not to think about it. Because every time I do, it sends me into a spiral of anxiety and upset.”
“I really wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this. It’s been a trauma, that’s all I can call it,” he added.
He also told the publication that he currently has £60 in his bank account. “I was asked on Friday what my advice would be to other potential whistleblowers, and I said, ‘Honestly. Don’t do it.’ I have been stripped of everything,” Sanni explained.
His solicitor Tamsin Allen said: “They had absolutely no business disclosing this information.”
“Whistleblowers often face negative consequences but the consequences for Shahmir have been extreme and deeply unfair. He needs support in bringing these claims so he can rebuild his life.”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told The Guardian: “We don’t discuss internal staffing matters in public. They are between employer and employees.”
Last month, speaking at the Frontline Club, Sanni broke down in tears while discussing what had happened to him. “He knew… he knew that I wasn’t out to my mum,” Sanni said.
He continued: “This is how low they will stoop. It’s not relevant. How is my relationship with Stephen Parkinson relevant to the stuff that I am talking about?
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“This is now what all the publications are talking about, it doesn’t matter from what side. There’s homophobic vitriol, [citing a report from a right-wing outlet] ‘oh, he was at a gay event [while in the closet], he went to an LGBT event!’
“The Prime Minister was there, is the Prime Minister gay as well? There is a thing called being a straight ally, and that’s what I proudly called myself up until now, because it protected me as well as my family.
“Number 10 – it wasn’t just Stephen Parkinson, it was Number 10, Stephen Parkinson and Dominic Cummings, have stripped me of what was the most important conversation for me to have with my mother and my sisters and my family.
“Now Pakistani news is reporting on it, the whole world is reporting on it, because Number 10 [was involved].”