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Second construction blacklist revealed by data watchdog

The Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed that there was a second construction industry blacklist believed to cover 500 construction workers.

The data protection watchdog wrote to the chair of the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee to say it had faxes to and from Hayden Young, now part of Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, containing names and National Insurance numbers of construction workers.

In the letter, the ICO’s deputy commissioner David Smith said the information included “the names of what appear to be individual construction workers and their NI (National Insurance) numbers, a list of nine contact names and addresses of what appear to be individual managers within different construction companies and a small sample of names and National Insurance numbers of individual construction workers on what are termed the Pfizer, Royal Opera House and Jubilee line lists.”

Mr Smith said the list of names along with the employment tribunal statement of Alan Wainwright had been presented in court to get a warrant to search Hayden Young’s premises in August 2008.

Mr Wainwright worked at several large construction firms, including Emcor Drake & Scull and Haden Young, and blew the whistle on blacklisting.

Mr Wainwright talked about the second blacklist when he gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee in November 2012.

He said he came across the list when he worked at Emcor Drake & Scull and that it contained the names of 500 “mechanical and electrical operatives” from three construction projects: the Royal Opera House, Pfizer’s new plant and the Jubilee line extension.

The Blacklist Support Group said this list contains the names of some people who are not on the blacklist of more than 3,000 people held by The Consulting Association which is part of two forthcoming court cases.

The group and trade union UCATT asked why the ICO had not revealed the existence of the second blacklist sooner and reiterated their calls for the government to hold a public inquiry into blacklisting.

The union’s general secretary Steve Murphy further added: “Serious questions must be asked of the ICO into their failure to reveal the full details of the blacklisting scandal at a far earlier date.

“It would be a serious error of judgement if the government continued to rely on the ICO to investigate blacklisting.”

The ICO said the information had been presented in court in 2008 and had enabled it to close The Consulting Association’s blacklist.

An Information Commissioner’s Office spokesperson said: “The additional information we highlighted to the select committee in our letter of 19 September formed the basis of an application for a search warrant as part of our investigation into blacklisting in the construction industry.

“This was information presented by the ICO in court as far back as 2008, and which ultimately led to us shutting down The Consulting Association blacklist.”

Balfour Beatty has been contacted for comment.

A spokeswoman for Emcor said: “Emcor Group UK is an equal opportunities employer and it is our policy not to discriminate on any grounds. We do not condone the use of blacklists.”

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