Sunday, 4 March 2012

Blacklisted workers and "Justice and Security"

The Central London Employment Tribunal has decided a case in which it emerged that, over a period of some 30 years, a blacklist of workers has been maintained on behalf of the construction industry - The Guardian 3rd March 2012 - "Police are linked to a blacklist of construction workers."  and also see Weightmans LLP - "Tribunal rules against worker blacklisted for raising health and safety concerns."

The tribunal case involved a Mr David Smith, 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 Information Commissioner's Office, told the Central London Employment 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".  It further appears that a civil action in the High Court is under consideration against some 39 companies.  Some 100 victims are seeking redress.

In the light of the government's proposals for Closed Material Procedure (CMP) in certain
civil actions involving "sensitive material", it is interesting to consider whether such a procedure could apply in an action such as Mr Smith's before an Employment Tribunal or in an action in the courts such as that under consideration.  I think that the answer is undoubtedly, YES.  The allegation of Police involvement or Security Service (MI5) involvement would be enough to get the Secretary of State to trigger a CMP and thus close down public sight of the evidence.  The issue of whether these bodies supplied information will be viewed by Ministers as "sensitive" justifying use of the procedure.

No one should therefore be so complacent as to think that Closed Material Procedure will be confined simply to cases against the government itself such as the Binyam Mohamed situation where security force collusion in torture at venues abroad was alleged and where the government sought to uphold a principle of confidentiality in relation to intelligence supplied to the UK by an ally (the USA).

For more on Justice and Security / Closed Material Procedure see Law and Lawyers "Secret Courts Condemned" which, in turn, links to earlier posts.  The Justice and Security green paper itself indicates that government concerns might be raised in certain employment cases.  "Gisting" has already been used in a number of employment cases - see, in particular, the Supreme Court's decision in Tariq [2011] UKSC 35.

Further links:

Blacklist blog -"Law fails blacklisted worker"


  1. I’m sure the new one’s good but we do tend to undertake out the legal past very quickly. Justice and security procedure need legal enforcement system or a court administrator to manage any concerns and issues behind. It's such a good source of information, thank you so much for this post, I learn lots of things.

    overland park personal injury lawyer ks

  2. While one can envisage employers compiling a blacklist it is wholly worrisome that the Security Services could be contributing to that list by providing the information on anyone who has done no wrong. All too often we hear after some atrocity or other that the various security agencies were not sharing vital information with each other which created a blind spot. This matter deserves further investigation.

    PS. The link to "Secret Courts Condemned" brought me to a page that informed me that "Your current account does not have access to view this page." Ironic.

  3. @ tiarna - I have fixed that link. Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Dave Smith said: “The blacklisting conspiracy is a deliberate breach of human rights by big business. Human rights are supposed to apply to everyone but Carillion and their subsidiaries have got away with systematic abuse of power simply because I was an agency worker. If the British justice system does not protect workers’ rights, then we will be taking our case direct to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

    I don't think that this is a human rights issue. The HRA deals with State abuse of human rights and not private companies. Therefore it is doubtful that the ECtHR in Strasbourg is the correct venue to raise the issue. It is more likely that the CJEU might be the correct venue. Conspiracy is both a criminal and common law offence.

    Thanks for highlighting this case.

  5. The blacklisting conspiracy theory is a talk violation of people privileges by big company. Human privileges are expected to utilize to everyone but Carillion and their subsidiaries have got away with methodical mistreatment of energy basically because I was an organization personnel.

    one call that's all

  6. Setting aside bog-standard discrimination, I have increasingly become of the opinion that the legal recruitment industry maintains and shares an employment blacklist.

    This, simply on the basis of the improbability of the total un-employability of myself, as opposed to my peers and contemporaries, the majority of whom being either equally, similarly or in some cases less-qualified than myself, have eventually been able to find gainful employment without much ado.

    Although I have previously dismissed such possibilities as paranoia, the Construction Industry case affirms my suspicions as do statements by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) , confirming that organisations both private and public do in fact maintain employment blacklists, which it seems from the Construction Industry case are informed by the police and intelligence services.

    The scope of my un-employability seems to go far beyond standard ethnic discrimination in the legal sector. I am well-educated, well-spoken, generally well-integrated as well as qualified and capable, which leads me to believe that something else is amiss.

    I feel that such a blacklist (unlike trade unionism/health and safety as in the Construction Industry case) is maintained at best based on credit ratings or at worst on perceived security or terrorism risks; the latter primarily informed by ethnic or ideological profiling.

    That said, I can confirm that I have no religious or ideological inclinations, no affinity to any religious group or indeed any group other than a loose membership based affiliation to a mainstream political party. I also have no debts, no credit history or any criminal record to my knowledge.

    Conversations with the ICO inform me that the Construction Industry case “merely scratched the surface” of employment blacklisting and blacklists are common and are not legally offensive in principle, if they (theoretically) conform to the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act.

    My suspicions are also affirmed by the experiences of a number of my associates, to whom I suggested this probability.

    The most immediate step I can take seems to be, to make a Freedom of Information request to organisations I feel are at the end of the chain of those sharing the blacklist, requesting what information is held about me and what purpose it is used for and whether an employment blacklist is actually in place.

    Following on from the invariable denial, an assessment can be requested from the Information Commissioner’s Office, which may bring more information to light.

    The problem seems to be that this exercise would further mar me, in the eyes of the Legal recruitment industry and render me even more un-employable than I am now.

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice or suggestions or would be willing to share their opinions or experiences.

    Many Thanks,