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Will we get an inquiry into blacklisting?

by Simon Basketter

The scandal of the illegal blacklisting of building workers is getting attention in the mainstream media.

Former Consulting Association (CA) chief blacklister Ian Kerr died last December.

The Times published an interview it carried out shortly before his death.

Kerr confessed that the CA had close links with police and security services.

He recalled a 2008 meeting where eight construction bosses were addressed by a “key officer” from the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordinating Unit, set up by the police to counter “extremist groups.”

The police unit was seeking a channel to inform construction companies about the information they collected. In return, the police asked firms to give them information about potential troublemakers.

Labour MPs demanded a full investigation into evidence that the police and security services have been involved in blacklisting.

Doors

In a parliamentary debate Labour MP John McDonnell called for “an inquiry that opens up the doors”.

Business secretary Vince Cable resisted calls for an inquiry. “If it is actually going on, it is a serious matter and it needs investigation,” he said. “But we want some evidence.”

Cullum McAlpine, a director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, gave evidence to a select committee last week. When asked why his company paid Kerr’s fine and legal costs, McAlpine said it was a “humanitarian and practical measure”.

Mick Abbot, who has been blacklisted by McAlpine since the 1970s, told Socialist Worker, “Cullum McAlpine is the ugly face of big business.

“He’s completely unapologetic about the lives he ruined or the torment he caused our wives and children.

“This is a human rights scandal bigger than phone-hacking. Only a full public inquiry will expose the true web of lies, collusion and abuse of corporate power.”

Tower Hamlets and Hull councils have passed motions saying they won’t use blacklist firms on council contracts.


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News
Fri 15 Mar 2013, 15:32 GMT
Issue No. 2338
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