James Moore: Where will whistleblower turn up next?

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The Independent Online

Outlook: If Michael Woodford follows through with his threat to write a book on the events leading up to his dismissal by Olympus it promises to be a real humdinger, maybe even along the lines of Too Big To Fail or Barbarians at the Gate.

With his decision to flee Japan accompanied by dark talk of gangsterism (hold your breath publishers, Yakuzas and maybe even Ninjas), all the ingredients are there, particularly if he enlists the help of a good ghostwriter.

In reality, he was always on a hiding to nothing in his attempt to get his job back, having been fired for blowing the whistle on a massive accounting scandal.

Leaving the current management in place looks like allowing a group of prisoners to retain control of a jail. After an inspection team has been in and found they've not been doing a terribly good job.

But even were Japanese corporate governance a shining example of best practice, trying to put together a group of international shareholders to help you oust management who are backed by domestic institutions (however wrongly) would be hard to pull off wherever you tried it.

Before we Anglo-Saxons get on our high horses and start lecturing, though, we might like to remember that the governance arrangements in this country are hardly best in class. We've seen whistleblowers aplenty go down in flames here too. How about those who raised questions about what the banks were up to?

Then there are the non-executive directors who time and again sit on their hands when they should raise alarm bells.

Come to think of it, while he has the small matter of an unfair dismissal case to contend with – and of course that book to write – Mr Woodford will still have time on his hands. He has the sort of background and qualifications to be of benefit to quite a few British companies. It will be most interesting to see if, when the dust has settled, he turns up at any.

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