MPs investigating blacklisting in the construction industry are preparing to release interim report on 9-month inquiry

Tim Lezard

Big Ben parliamentMPs investigating blacklisting in the construction industry are preparing to release an interim report.

It comes as the Scottish Affairs Select Committee prepares to take evidence from what campaigners believe are two of the main players in the 20-year history of damaging anti-union surveillance of health and safety reps and other activists.

The committee has been investigating blacklisting in employment following the raid on The Consulting Association in 2009 and the discovery of a secret vetting process.

The committee’s next witness will be Harvey Francis, executive vice president for Human Resources at Skanska UK, on Tuesday. Skanska, which has a huge number of public sector contracts, was one of the biggest users of the association.

The committee also plans to call representatives from another association subscriber, the construction giant Balfour Beatty.

Meanwhile, a group of environmental activists is expecting to receive their files from the information watchdog, the ICO in the coming days.

An analysis by the GMB found some 200 names of people who appeared to have no connection with the construction industry on the association’s database.

Subsequently around 15 people approached the ICO – all had been active in protests across the country against building projects such as road schemes. The ICO confirmed they had files.

One person who will put in a formal request to see his file this week is John Stewart.

The 63-year-old from Clapham has no criminal convictions, does not belong to a trade union and worked in retail. He does, however, head a peaceful campaign against the expansion of Heathrow airport.

“It just never occurred to me I might be on this blacklist,” he said.

MPs are looking to publish an interim report on their 9-month investigation “in the next month,” according to chairman Ian Davidson.

Alongside this, the committee is also looking at issuing a further call for evidence which would cover four areas.

It will ask for information on whether blacklisting is continuing and whether existing legislation is strong enough or needs to be better applied.

The inquiry will also ask for views as to whether those who were blacklisted should get compensation, and if so from whom.

Finally it will ask whether those doing the blacklisting should be penalised retrospectively, and if so in what way.

The MPs have recently been given access to the original blacklist, which is held by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Ian Davidson said they had made extensive notes on the files, which cover more than 3,200 names, and these raised a number of questions they intend to pursue. They will also study the association’s day books which detail the payments made by association subscribers.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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