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GMB Slams Met Over Blacklisting Inquiry

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pitchford Inquiry fails to stop cops possibly obstructing justice following blacklisting scandal, union says.

GMB has criticised Scotland Yard after the Met Police destroyed evidence needed for an inquiry into state sponsored spying on trade unions and blacklisting operations, despite a court order to the contrary.

The Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing has failed to secure potentially crucial documents central to the investigation.

GMB has remained concerned about undercover police tactics since links between police and the blacklisting organisation - The Consulting Association - were uncovered by the Information Commissioner in 2009.

GMB subsequently won £5.4million million in compensation for members blacklisted by 44 construction companies, and a full apology.[2]

However the clear evidence on the blacklist files of police involvement with the Consulting Association remains open to further inquiry by Pitchford.

GMB has joined other unions and bodies [1] calling for an urgent inquiry unto the destruction of the documents.

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, said:

"The fact police destroyed these potentially vital documents in the face of a court order is nothing short of a national scandal.

"We need an immediate investigation into how this evidence was allowed to be eradicated.

"Without this, how can we have any faith in the future of the Pitchford Inquiry?

"Blacklisted workers have endured lies, denials and cover ups for decades.

"Pitchford represents a real opportunity to bring light and transparency to this murky and unlawful world. 

"We hope the Commission will be part of the solution and not hide the problem."

ENDS

Contact: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

[1]
Joint Union Statement 
We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens. 
 
Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith. 
 
We are calling on Lord Justice Pitchford to announce an urgent Inquiry hearing to examine the destruction of evidence by the police. The Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe should be forced to give evidence under oath to explain why, how and under whose authority documents have been destroyed.
 
Lord Justice Pitchford needs to take immediate measures to secure all documentation held by the police, in order to prevent future destruction and avoid the entire inquiry descending into a hugely expensive cover-up on the part of the Metropolitan Police.
 
SIGNED:
Len McCluskey (General Secretary) and Gail Cartmail (Acting General Secretary) UNITE the Union, incorporating UCATT 
Matt Wrack (General Secretary) Fire Brigades Union
Chris Kitchen (General Secretary) National Union of Mineworkers
Tim Roache (General Secretary) GMB union 
Mick Cash (General Secretary) Rail Maritime and Transport union 
Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary) National Union of Journalists 
Dave Smith and Roy Bentham (joint secretaries) Blacklist Support Group
Blacklist Support Group

[2]
GMB Press Release Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blacklisted GMB Workers Get High Court Apology From Construction Companies

Most of the biggest construction companies in the land apologised for the part they played in the secret blacklisting of 3,213 building workers and environmental activists and they will hang their heads in shame for the lives they destroyed with their arrogance and contempt says GMB.

Today, in the Royal Courts of Justice, the construction companies involved in the blacklisting case have apologised to the blacklisted workers for the untold damage and destroyed lives that they caused over decades for denying work to trade union members. (See notes to editors for defendants’ apology – point 29-31)

The 116 blacklisted GMB members received a full apology as well as receiving £5.4m in compensation when the agreement was reached on Friday 29th April 2016. GMB understand the total value of settlements for GMB, UCATT, GCR and Unite members is around £75m for 771 claimants including legal costs on both sides estimated at £25m.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

The claims were brought against Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI and concerned thirty years of blacklisting activities by them, the Economic League and the Consulting Association.

Counsel for the Defendants said: “The Defendants are here today to offer, through me, their sincere and unreserved apologies to the Claimants for any damage caused. The Defendants apologise as providers of any information and for the loss of employment suffered as a result of communication of information during the operation of the Consulting Association. They also apologise for the anxiety and hurt to feelings caused as a result.”

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director said: “All GMB could ever get for our members was compensation and a full apology. Today we feel truly vindicated to receive this apology for our blacklisted members. Despite years of denials, today the greedy goliaths have been forced to apologise and account for their unlawful blacklisting.”

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer said: “In the Royal Courts of Justice today, and with their heads bowed before Lord Justice Supperstone, Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and most of the biggest construction companies in the land apologised for the part they played in the secret blacklisting of 3,213 building workers and environmental activists. They will hang their heads in shame for the lives they destroyed with their arrogance and contempt.

Government and employers’ organisations must never forget this sordid episode. Without strong regulation and penalties holding them to account, employers will always be tempted to put profit above people.”

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