Extraordinary revelations as blacklist compiler Ian Kerr gives evidence

Yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of known blacklisting organisation the Consulting Association Ian Kerr gave oral evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the practice.  

28 Nov 2012| News


The Consulting Association has been investigated previously by the Information Commissioner’s Office in March 2009, when it was uncovered that the company was selling the details of trade union members to construction firms, who may then decide not to employ them. Kerr was charged £5,000 for breaking data protection laws. He could not be charged for blacklisting, as this is still not deemed illegal in UK law. And, as it was revealed yesterday, it turns out Kerr did not even pay the fine he was given…Sir Robert McAlpine did.

Watch Ian Kerr’s evidence session


Dave Smith, Secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, who sat in on the meeting, produced a list of astonishing revelations from Ian Kerr’s evidence on the Blacklist Support Group’s Facebook Page.

The following are his notes on the meeting:

Who was behind the blacklist?

  • Kerr has been a full-time blacklister since 1969 – previously employed by the Economic League before he became the Chief Executive of the Consulting Association.
  • Cullum McAlpine – Director of several companies within the Sir Robert McAlpine group – was the first Chairman of the Consulting Association after providing a £10,000 start-up loan following the demise of the Economic League.
  • Consulting Association meetings took place in the Sir Robert McAlpine London HQ
  • Other blacklisting operations were in existence including Caprim Limited which was set up by the former managing Director of the Economic League

The protection of Kerr

  • Sir Robert McAlpine paid Ian Kerr’s £5,000 fine, soliciotors fees, and costs associated with closing the organisation including redundancy money for the 4 staff to the order of £25,0000 in order to keep McAlpine’s name out of the scandal.
  • Kerr was paid £50k per year + car + bonus + BUPA + life insurance
  • Kerr’s wife worked as the organisation’s book-keeper.


Who used the blacklist?

  • The main contact for each company was at Director level or similar.
  • Widespread blacklisting took place on the Olympics construction project by McAlpine, Skanska and Balfour Beatty.
  • Crossrail – “An awful lot of discussion took place at Consulting Association meetings about the Crossrail Project”

Who provided Consulting Association with information?

  • Police held regular meetings with senior members of the blacklisting operation with information flowing both ways
  • Union officials provided information about their own members that ended up on the blacklist files. Ian Davidson MP described this as “the union putting the kybosh on someones employment”
  • >Kerr and other blacklist spies were sent undercover into union meetings


Who was blacklisted?

  • 200 Environmental activists were blacklisted (these files were not seized by the ICO)
  • Safety Reps were blacklisted if they were too persistent and likely to delay a project.

Breaking the law?

According to Smith Pamela Nash MP believes the Consulting Association breached at least two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Kerr admitted that all documents and computer records have been burned or destroyed. He also refused to respond to questions on any role he had in the official vetting operation for Irish workers on Ministry of Defence contracts. Smith reports: “After a long pause he asked if he could answer that question in private”.


IER official briefing on blacklisting

Professor Keith Ewing, legal expert at King’s College London and President of the IER, wrote a briefing on blacklisting – Ruined Lives –, commissioned by UCATT.

This informative and thought-provoking work suggests policy changes for the future to protect workers against such injustice and well compensated for financial losses they have made as a result of being included on a blacklist.

Ruined Lives is now on special offer. Click here to buy your copy

Related Articles