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ICO ordered to prove how Ian Kerr profited from blacklist

The Information Commissioner’s Office has been ordered to prove how Ian Kerr profited from his database of blacklisted construction workers.

Mr Kerr pleaded guilty at Macclesfield Magistrates Court today to charges brought by the ICO relating to breaches of the Data Protection Act.

But Adrian Long, chairman of the magistrates, said it was unclear who profited from the activities of Ian Kerr’s firm the Consulting Association.

He said: “We need to know the nature of this organisation and exactly what sums of money were involved.

“Was (Kerr) simply an employee and others were financing the organisation and taking the money?”

Mr Long ordered the ICO to establish the “structure, ownership and finances” of the Consulting Association.

James Strong, defending, said Kerr was just a salaried employee of the organisation, which he described as a trade association.

Since the ICO raid the Consulting Association was ordered to cease operations and Kerr has lost his £48,000-a-year job, Mr Strong said.

Kerr’s organisation, the Consulting Association, in Droitwich, West Midlands, was raided by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) last March and he was charged with a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Kerr, 66, of Avoncroft Road, Stoke Heath, Worcestershire, did not attend Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court today but entered a guilty plea through his solicitor.

Amina Khan, prosecuting for the ICO, told the court Kerr charged firms an annual fee of £3,000 to subscribe to the service and £2.20 to access the details of named individuals.

She said: “He collated and provided information to construction companies in relation to individuals that were working for them or seeking employment.”

The ICO says it believes Kerr ran the blacklist for up to 15 years.

Mick Gorrell, Assistant Information Commissioner, said he was pleased with Kerr’s guilty plea and pledged enforcement action against the companies who subscribed to the blacklist.

He said: “This was a flagrant abuse of people’s rights. It was a covert database which meant that those who featured in it were unaware of its existence and unable to view or challenge the content, its accuracy or fairness.

“Many people will have been left without a job and with no idea why. We will be looking at the companies which subscribed to the database and consider sending enforcement notices.”