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ICO to use 'strongest powers' against 17 firms that accessed blacklist

Enforcement action is being taken against 17 construction companies involved in the blacklisting scandal.

The Information Commissioner today revealed it would use the “strongest powers” available to it against those found to have been breaching the law by accessing the secret database.

It was revealed earlier this year that about 40 contractors had been accessing a blacklist of some 3,000 names established by The Consulting Association. The file included details of workers background including whether they were members of trade unions and if they had raised health and safety concerns on previous sites.

The ICO described it as “a covert operation to vet construction workers for employment in the industry”.

The body today said it had written to 17 firms with preliminary enforcement notices which outlined that they unfairly obtained personal data from the association’s director Ian Kerr.

It said: “Formal enforcement action will follow shortly, subject to any representations made by the companies.”

Mr Kerr was today also fined £5,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act in compiling the blacklist.

Knutsford Crown Court heard construction firms paid The Consulting Association £478,937 between April 2006 and February 2009.

Following the ICO’s investigation, Kerr’s system was closed down and TCA ceased trading. The ICO has received over 1,827 enquiries from members of the public and as a result over 120 individuals who appeared on the database have now had their information returned to them.