How to be an effective resister

The whistleblower's handbook By Brian Martin Jon Carpenter 159 pages£10

Paradoxically, this guide is more likely to turn people off the idea of seeking fairness and justice than inspire workplace heroes or heroines to take on the inequities of a corrupt regime. And that is what it is meant to do.

From the start, Brian Martin makes it clear that most people, however principled and courageous, fail in their attempts to expose wrongdoing.

They are too trusting, don't have the evidence, use the wrong style, don't wait for the right opportunity, don't build enough support, play their opponent's game and don't know when to stop. Many stumble at the first fence. Some struggle on for many years only to fall at the last.

Nonetheless, there is always hope in learning from the mistakes of others, and throughout the book Mr Martin presents a range of potted case histories and possible scenarios.

The winning game-play starts with understanding every aspect of the problem and planning properly towards a solution. It involves facing the consequences of speaking out and knowing just how vindictive opponents can be.

Anyone questioning the integrity of those in power or pointing to corrupt practices in the system is likely to be ruthlessly victimised. It's the nature of those complicit in the problem, including official channels of complaint, to turn the attack on those who rock the boat.

But it can be done with a lot of help from friends and supporters. And here's the nub of the guidance: seek backing from colleagues, family, lawyers, concerned individuals, pressure groups, the media, the ubiquitous Internet - and those who have been through it before.

There are also networking and self-help groups such as the UK's Freedom to Care and Whistleblowers Australia, of which the author has been national president.

Given the obstacles and sheer malice placed in the way of would-be whistleblowers, it's difficult to see how anyone would dare to embark on such an ordeal in the first place. Unless, of course, it's to write on the subject.

Whistleblowing has become an industry.