Anti-blacklisting campaigners demand further explanation from information watchdog after full extent of blacklisting was revealed to MPs


Anti-blacklisting campaigners are demanding further explanation from the information watchdog after the full extent of the practice was revealed to an MPs inquiry.

UCATT says many thousands more workers could have been under surveillance than had been confirmed by the Information Commissioners Office [ICO].

The Scottish Affairs Select Committee heard yesterday that in 2009, when the ICO raided offices of the Consulting Association, it only removed 5% of the organisation’s files, the now-notorious blacklist of 3,200 workers.

The deputy commissioner, David Smith told MPs he believed they had acted in good faith and within the terms of their investigation by seizing the files and closing down the agency, which had complied information on trade union health and safety reps, activists and campaigners on behalf of dozens of major construction firms.

However committee chairman Ian Davidson MP asked whether the remaining files at the CA’s Worcestershire office could have provided further evidence of blacklisting in construction and other sectors.

“There could have been twice as many names or 10 times as many names in there,” he said.

He also suggested the surveillance operation, which is thought to have dated back to the early 1990s, could have covered other industries, such as rail and shipping.

The director of the Consulting Association, Ian Kerr, was convicted and fined under data protection legislation following the seizure of the blacklist files.

However, UCATT says the ICO revelations indicate there could have been up to 60,000 additional people under surveillance.

General secretary, Steve Murphy, said: “This is scandalous. We are seeking an urgent meeting with the ICO so that they can explain their actions.

“We need to know why the ICO left 95% of the files with a criminal and where those files are now.”

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