Police are linked to blacklist of construction workers

Daniel Boffey writes in the Observer:

The police or security services supplied information to a blacklist funded by the country’s major construction firms that has kept thousands of people out of work over the past three decades.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed that records that could only have come from the police or MI5 have been discovered in a vast database of files held on 3,200 victims who were deemed leftwing or troublesome.

The files were collected by the Consulting Association, a clandestine organisation funded by major names in the construction industry.

Its database was seized nearly three years ago, but the extraordinary nature of the information held has only now emerged, following an employment tribunal for one of the victims, Dave Smith, a 46-year-old engineer who had a 36-page file against his name and was victimised repeatedly for highlighting safety hazards on sites, including the presence of asbestos.

David Clancy, investigations manager at the ICO, told the central London tribunal adjudicating on Smith’s claims against construction giant Carillion that “there is information on the Consulting Association files that I believe could only be supplied by the police or the security services”.

The paper reports details of another victim’s Consulting Association file:

Signal technician Steve Hedley, from East Ham, is one of those whose name was in the Consulting Association’s files. In 2004, Hedley, 43, was working on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link when his employer accused him of theft. The claim was subsequently retracted, but he was told there was no more work on site. A few weeks later he was taken on by a different company working on the project, then sacked within days without explanation. It was the start of four years without permanent employment. In what is thought to be police-sourced intelligence, he was named in the files as having been “apprehended/observed on way to demonstrate against BNP laying wreath at Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday”. The last entry in his 18-page file, which comprised mainly cuttings from the Morning Star and other leftwing publications, states that he had been elected as an RMT union organiser. Other notes describe his disapproval of new Labour, among other things.

3 thoughts on “Police are linked to blacklist of construction workers

  1. Tom Welsh says:

    Thank goodness we live in an advanced, highly civilised country where there is absolutely no official corruption – unlike those poor benighted third world nations!

  2. guy herbert says:

    It’s important from the point of view of NO2ID to distinguish between material taken from police files/databases and ‘open-source intelligence’ such as the newspaper clippings referred to. The former shows the database state out of hand: an informal, perhaps criminal, equivalent of enhanced CRB checks, in which police opinions and suspicions are used to make secret judgments about individuals.

    There might be concerns about using the latter in making hiring decisions, but is publicly announced material that the subject has access to.

  3. Tom Welsh says:

    Good point, Guy. I noticed an article in today’s Times (5th March) complaining about the growing police tendency to demand most (or all) film footage of protests taken by the media. Arguably that is “open” in principle (except that much of it is never published), but it brings us nearer to the idea that the authorities should be aware of everything that happens and everything anyone does – just in case.

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