News & events


Police admit involvement in blacklisting conspiracy - documentary evidence

The police were involved with the illegal Consulting Association blacklist of trade unionists in the construction industry. There is not a shred of doubt about this and documentary evidence has now come to light to back up repeated claims made by blacklist campaigners over the past 2 years.

1. Special Branch
In a recent Guardian front page article, undercover police officer Peter Francis, from the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) section within Special Branch admitted spying on a number of union activists who were involved in an anti-racist group that he had infiltrated. He says that specific information on their blacklist files almost certainly originated from his evidence gathering.

Brand new confirmation that police colluded with blacklisting trade unionists has now come to light. The Blacklist Support Group submitted a complaint to the IPCC in 2012. The IPCC and Met Police initially refused to even register the complaint but after an Appeal by Christian Khan solicitors the IPCC passed the complaint over to Operation Herne (the ongoing police investigation looking into the conduct of undercover police units).

In a recent letter about the Blacklist Support Group complaint, the IPCC update progress in the investigation and admit:

"initial scoping by the Operation Herne team identified that the Consulting Association was an organisation that had developed from a number of other organisations dating back to 1917. The scoping also identified that it was likely that all Special Branches were involved in providing information about potential employees" (full letter attached)

This is an absolute admission by the police that Special Branch colluded with the blacklisting conspiracy which has been described as "the worst human rights abuse against workers in the UK since the war" by Michael Meacher MP during a debate in the House of Commons.

Another undercover SDS officer called Mark Jenner (aka Cassidy) spied on activists in London in the late 1990s. Jenner used a cover story that he was a building worker and attended picket lines about unpaid wages and even chaired meetings of rank and file building workers campaigns. Information about those picket lines and about the campaign that the undercover SDS officer chaired appear on a number of Consulting Association blacklist files.

One of the blacklisted union activists that was spied on by Mark Jenner is Steve Hedley, current RMT Assistant General Secretary, who even invited the undercover SDS officer to stay in his family home in Derry during a trip to Ireland at the time of the peace process.
Steve Hedley said:

"I feel utterly violated by a police officer befriending me, then spying on me and passing information on to the blacklist which resulted in me being unemployed for a year.This man stayed at my family home as a guest. Are we now living in a police state?"

Brand new documentary evidence has now come to light that proves beyond doubt that senior officers from the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) attended secret Consulting Association meetings. NETCU was set up in 2005 after lobbying by big corporations.

Last week the Information Commissioners Office responded to a Freedom of Information request which requested "a copy of any minutes/notes/powerpoint presentations in relation to and the list of attendees of the meeting between the NETCU and the Consulting Association in November 2008 held by the ICO."

In an email response dated 3rd September 2013, the ICO have now stated:
"We can confirm that we do hold information in the scope of your request. Within the seized information we do hold notes of a NETCU meeting which are dated November 2008. It is unclear whether this is a formal minutes or just notes taken by an attendee at the time or afterwards."

This is documentary evidence that senior police officers attended secret meetings of the Consulting Association blacklist. The ICO have refused to hand over this documentary evidence claiming it would be a breach of the Data Protection Act. The IPCC are investigating police involvement with an illegal blacklisting conspiracy - the ICO have the documents that prove this and they are refusing to hand it over to the lawyers of the blacklisted workers.  A similar FOI request to the police has also resulted in no documents being disclosed. This smacks of a cover up.

To make matters worse, when the ICO gave evidence to MPs as part of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting they were asked specifically about possible police involvement in the Consulting Association blacklist and completely failed to mention that they had documents in their possession that proved that the police attended CA meetings.

Blacklisting campaigners believe that the police officer who gave the power point presentation at the CA meeting in November 2008 was previous head of NETCU, Superintendent Steve Pearl, currently director of a firm which provides employment vetting

3. Subject Access Requests
The law allows anyone to apply to the police for a copy of their own police file: this is known as a Subject Access Request. This is not just for criminal convictions but any data kept by the police including information about attendance at protests by activists. Since the police involvement with the blacklist has come to light, a number of blacklisted workers have applied for their own files and the police have refused to provide the files.

The identical letter being sent to blacklisted workers and environmental activists states that "disclosing such data would be likely to prejudice the prevention and detection of crime and / or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders" (letter attached)

As we have committed no crime as part of our trade union activity - we can only assume that this means that the police are still spying on us. Is the reason for the refusal to disclose documents because the Blacklist Support Group has been infiltrated by an undercover police officer and disclosing documents would make it possible for us to identify the spy?

4. Quotes from blacklisted workers who have information on their files from police

Brian Higgins - grandfather and retired bricklayer
"As a target of this undercover police operation I can only hope, with other victims, that Jenner and his co conspirators and those behind this utterly obscene and extremely sinister practice are called and held to account by any public inquiry into all aspects of the Consulting Association and those organisations and individuals who aided and abetted it. Justice cries out for and demands this."

Blacklist Support Group statement on police involvement

Blacklisting is no longer an industrial relations issue; it is a conspiracy between multinational construction firms, the police and the security services. The parallels with phone hacking are obvious. There is, however, a significant difference from phone hacking, where the police involvement was supposedly due to individual corruption. The police collusion in blacklisting is not one or two rogue officers, but standard operating procedure by the state to target campaigners under the guise of "domestic extremism", routinely sharing information with big business. We are not terrorists: we are trade unionists and campaigners participating in perfectly legal activities in a democratic society. The Blacklist Support Group has no faith in the police investigating the police under the auspices of Operation Herne. All of our requests for information so far have been met by denial and obstruction. This smacks of a cover up. Only a full public inquiry with a wide enough remit to unravel all the institutions responsible for blacklisting is going to get to the truth of this ongoing human rights scandal.