An investigation has found that British police or security forces supplied personal information to major construction companies looking to keep roughly 3,200 “left-wing or troublesome” workers off their payrolls. The blacklist provided records of “workers’ trade union activities and conduct at work” to more than 40 building firms, The Guardian reports.
David Clancy of the Information Commissioner’s Office—the agency responsible for the inquiry—said the relationship between the group that collected the information and the police and security forces dates back to a time when the government cooperated with building companies to keep an eye on Irish construction workers who may have been involved in IRA terrorism.
John McDonnell, the MP who rang the bell on blacklisting a decade ago and is driving debate on the scandal, fumed:
I am outraged at the systematic abuse of people’s rights. This has destroyed people’s lives, broken up families, ensured that people have not been able to earn a living. It has devastated people year after year, and nobody has listened to us. No one has been willing to believe the extent to which there has been collusion between police, security services and companies. It is all about the ability of companies to exploit workers and destroy anybody who stands up against them.
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”.