The Metropolitan Police is investigating allegations of police collusion in the blacklisting of construction workers under the watchful eye of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
An earlier complaint from the Blacklisting Support Group claimed that the Metropolitan Police had been involved in compiling the Consulting Association’s blacklist, which contained background information on 3,213 workers, including their political beliefs and union activity.
It was during an interview with the Times after his death that Ian Kerr made a claim that led to an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that led to a fine of £5,000 against the Consulting Association.
NETCU, a Huntingdon-based police organisation formed to combat “extremist” protest groups, sent a “key officer” to address eight construction industry directors at a meeting organised by the association in 2008, the Times reported.
Kerr died in December, a fortnight after giving evidence on construction blacklisting to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. During his testimony, he named a number of high profile building firms that had used the Consulting Association’s database and promised to name individuals involved in blacklisting. He also said that blacklisting had taken place on projects linked to the London 2012 Olympics.
Building magazine subsequently obtained a letter to Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive Dennis Hone, who had repeatedly denied that blacklisting took place on the Olympic Stadium project, in which Balfour Beatty chief executive Mike Peasland admitted the company had checked 12 applicants for Olympics work against the Consulting Association’s database in 2008. In addition, an internal review had found “no evidence” that these checks had resulted in a candidate being denied employment, he noted.
Because of the ICO raid in 2009, Balfour Beatty says it hasn’t used or supported any “blacklist” databases or supplied information to such databases,” according to a company statement.
Elsewhere, the GMB has called on the Scottish Affairs committee to investigate how and why several environmental activists ended up on the Consulting Association’s blacklist – and to look at whether NETCU had any involvement in their names being added to the database. The union said that it has been contacted by five women on the blacklist who have all confirmed they are environmental activists. The GMB is assisting the women in obtaining their files from the ICO and evaluating their damages claims. Five people from different parts of the United Kingdom have come forward to claim that they have no idea how they ended up on the “no-fly” list.
Responding to the announcement of the Met’s investigation, Steve Murphy, general secretary of Ucatt, said: “This is a major step forward in discovering the full truth about blacklisting and winning justice for blacklisted workers.
This investigation must be followed by a full public inquiry into the vile and disgusting blacklisting practise as new evidence about the extent of the state’s involvement emerges. It is imperative that those whose lives have been irreparably damaged be provided with all of the relevant information.”