London's Metropolitan Police is to conduct a major investigation into allegations that it colluded with the blacklisting of construction workers. The investigation is to be conducted by The Directorate of Professional Standards' (DPS) who are responsible for investigating complaints against the professional conduct of the Met's Officers, and is supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
The DPS replaced the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB) dubbed the Untouchables, who used discredited methods to pursue serving and former officers. These
included entrapment operations; inducements to supergrasses; non-disclosure to the defence of vital documents in court cases; widespread breaches of laws
regulating police evidence-gathering procedures; and double standards in the handling of complaints.
The Met DPS originally refused to investigate the complaint and many believe that given the seriousness of the allegations of widespread corruption and criminal behaviour on the part of Metropolitan Police officers, the DPS should have no involvement in the investigation.
The new investigation has been set up as a result of a complaint by several groups.
Dave Smith of the Blacklist Support Group said: "We want to know why information collected by the police has ended up on a secret blacklist of trade unionists operated by multinational companies. He said "If police collusion is proven, at best it is individual corruption. At worst it is systematic state involvement in a major human rights conspiracy."
In August 2012, the pressure group Liberty threatened to take the UK government to court to force an investigation into the case. The legal officer for Liberty, Corinna Ferguson, said: "We can't believe the inaction of the Information Commissioner on a human-rights violation of such wide public interest.
Contracting out the blacklisting of innocent workers, politicians and journalists is no better than farming out phone hacking to private detectives and the consequences for our democracy are just as grave. If we cannot persuade the Commissioner to discharge his public duty, we will consider seeking assistancefrom the courts."
The investigation follows mounting evidence that both the police and the security forces may have provided information for a blacklist run by the Consulting Association.
The Consulting Association (TCA) based in Droitwich was owned by Ian Kerr and an organisation which maintained an illegal blacklist of construction workers who were active trade union members, or were otherwise vocal on matters such as health and safety in their industry.
Its customer base consisted of over 40 construction companies (see below) who would supply details of existing or former employees deemed to have engaged in
trade union or political activity. They could in turn enquire whether TCA had information about prospective employees. Customers would pay an annual £3,000
subscription, and £2.20 for each enquiry.
On February 23, 2009, the company's office was raided by the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO), which served an enforcement notice under the terms of the Data Protection Act. The OIC disclosed that 3213 workers' details were held by the company.
Kerr was prosecuted for violating the Data Protection Act, 1998 by failing to register as a data controller. He pleaded guilty. Macclesfield Magistrates Court refused jurisdiction as it felt its maximum penalty was insufficient, and he was sentenced to a fine of £5,000 with £1,187.20 costs at Knutsford Crown Court in July 2009. The ICO was unable to prosecute Kerr for sharing data without permission, as the Data Protection Act does not make it an offence.
The issue returned to the headlines when ICO's head of investigations David Clancy - who led the raid on the TCA's offices in 2009 which discovered a database with details of the construction workers - told an employment tribunal that "information on some of the blacklist files could only have come from the police or the security services." Mr Clancy repeated the assertion last week in evidence to the Scottish affairs select committee investigation into blacklisting.
The OIC press release included a list of over 40 construction companies who were current or previous users of TCA.
- AMEC (Amec Building Ltd, Amec Construction Ltd, Amec Facilities Ltd, Amec Ind Div, Amec Process & Energy Ltd)
- Amey Construction – Ex Member
- B Sunley & Sons – Ex Member
- Balfour Beatty
- Balfour Kilpatrick
- Ballast (Wiltshire) PLC – Ex Member
- BAM Construction (HBC Construction), BAM Nuttall (Edmund Nutall Ltd)
- C B & I
- Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd
- Costain UK Ltd
- Crown House Technologies (Carillion/Tarmac Const)
- Dudley Bower & Co Ltd – Ex Member
- Emcor (Drake & Scull) - ‘Ex Ref’, Emcor Rail
- G Wimpey Ltd – Ex Member
- Haden Young
- Kier Ltd
- John Mowlem Ltd - Ex Member
- Laing O'Rourke (Laing Ltd)
- Lovell Construction (UK) Ltd – Ex Member
- Miller Construction Limited – Ex Member
- Morgan Ashurst, Morgan Est
- Morrison Construction Group - Ex Member
- N G Bailey
- Shepherd Engineering Services
- Siac Building Services
- Sir Robert McAlpine
- Skanska (Kaverna/Trafalgar House Plc)
- SPIE (Matthew Hall) - Ex Member
- Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd – Ex Member
- Turriff Construction Ltd – Ex Member
- Tysons Contractors – Ex Member
- Walter Llewellyn & Sons Ltd - Ex Member
- Whessoe Oil & Gas Willmott Dixon – Ex Member
- Vinci PLC (Norwest Holst Group)
Report by Ian Bell