Today the Blacklist Support Group marked five years of inaction by the police by attempting to uphold the law themselves. Dave Smith, Helen Steele and a group of supporters visited the London offices of construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine Limited to make a citizens arrest. This weekend is the 5th anniversary of the raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office that discovered the illegal building industry blacklist.
The target for arrest today by the protesters was millionaire construction boss. When giving evidence to a Select Committee investigation into blacklisting Cullum McAlpine was forced to admit that he was the first chairman of the Consulting Association conspiracy (a post he held for 3 years) and that the first meetings of the shady organisation were actually held in his office at the Sir Robert McAlpine Limited offices in Grosvenor Crescent, Victoria.
It has to be said that staff at the aforementioned offices were not exactly thrilled by the arrival of Dave and his supporters. The only woman present amongst the Blacklist Supporters group, was assaulted by office staff for filming the proceedings on a mobile. The same staff expressed far less interest in stopping two male journalists from filming and photographing the proceedings. They called the Police who arrived in what can only be described as serious numbers in six vehicles. Though they expressed little interest in the illegal activities that had been plotted in this very building.
The illegal blacklist database compiled in these offices held secret files on 3213 individuals which included information such as name, address, national insurance number, phone numbers, car registration and particularly recorded trade union membership and incidents where workers had complained about health & safety on building sites. Those workers that appeared on the blacklist suffered years of unemployment, repeated dismissals and financial hardship. Dave Smith was one such individual who was victimised and blacklisted for his activities as a trade union health and safety rep.
During the building of the Olympics Stadium in 2008-9, Sir Robert McAlpine was invoiced in excess of £28,000 for blacklisting name checks – which equates to 65 name checks a day, 7 days a week for the period. So the irony of finding an original framed, signed newspaper cartoon on the wall of the office depicting the Olympic project was not lost on the activists present.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is presently investigating police involvement in blacklisting and has already confirmed that Special Branch “routinely provided information about prospective employees”. This perhaps explains how hundreds of environmental protesters with little or no involvement in the construction industry have ended up on the list.
Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group said: “Blacklisted workers have lost their houses and our kids were on free school meals while Cullum McApline is the lord of the Manor in his £4.5million Grade 1 Listed Mansion in Cold Ashton. In any civilized society, McAlpine and his co-conspirators would be behind bars .We visited the birthplace of the Consulting Association to carry out a citizens arrest. We were pleased when the Met Police arrived and assisted in our search for Cullum McAlpine. It shows how seriously the authorities are taking corporate crime.”
Blacklisted activist Helen Steele said, “It has been 5 years since this conspiracy between big business and the police was discovered. Trade unionists and environmental activists have had their human rights violated. But 5 years later, no one has been brought to justice for the crimes they have committed. Its about time Cullum McAlpine was in the dock” Sir Robert McAlpine and seven other major construction firms involved in blacklisting are joint defendants in the High Court conspiracy case – next
court date April. The other companies in the High Court action are: Skanska, Costains, Laing O’Rourke, Kier, Vinci, Carillion and Balfour Beatty.
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