On February 5th, Jack Winder, former employee of the Economic League and ex-Director of Caprim (which has been suspected of blacklisting activities), spoke to the panel under oath. On Tuesday (February 12th), his colleague at both Caprim and the Economic League Stanley Hardy also gave evidence.
During his time at the Economic League, Winder confirmed that he had met with police officers to exchange information all the way up to 1994, when he formed Caprim. The League was also connected with trade union leaders, including Leif Mills, ex-General Secretary of the banking union; Eric Hammond, ex-General Secretary of the electricians union; Dennis Mills, from the midlands region of TGWU; and Kate Losinska, Former Head of the Civil and Public Services Association.
What’s more, he claimed that he was invited to speak with Employment Minister Jim Prior following the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and when Winder was still an employee of the Economic League. The discussion he had with the Minister centred on Winder sharing his knowledge of “far-left” political groups.
Both Winder and Hardy firmly stated that Caprim itself did not hold records on individuals and was not involved in blacklisting, however it held information and knowledge on campaigning groups and “far-left” political parties, which were seen as a threat to businesses, such as Greenpeace and the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
The companies that bought Caprim’s services included multinationals and companies in the Pharmaceutical, Arms and Agro-Chemicals industries, including some of the world’s biggest names, such as Rio Tinto, JP Morgan, GlaxoSmithKline, JCB and Astrazeneca. Hardy also stated that Caprim provided information to the researchers of MPs.
Although both Winder and Hardy denied blacklisting as part of Caprim’s operations, they both admitted that the company had received a £10,000 grant from Sir McAlpine not long after it had started up. This cash, they claimed, was given to them partly as a payoff to prevent them from having any contact with Ian Kerr’s blacklisting operation The Consulting Association.
Furthermore, they were both heavily involved with the operations of the Economic League and Winder admitted that some of his business there included colluding in blacklisting by retaining information that could be used by others in the League to blacklist individuals. Sir Henry Saxon Tate (of Tate and Lyle sugar) became a non-executive Director of Caprim after his role as the Chair of the Economic League.
Winder attempted to explain the blacklisting of blind and disabled war veteran Syd Scroggie of Dundee, who was blacklisted after writing to a local newspaper to commend the local authority on offering the Freedom of the City to Nelson Mandela. The Anti-Apartheid movement, Winder said, was considered to be a communist organisation, and so – with the Economic League often retaining incomplete evidence – those who were seen as being tied to it may have ended up in their records.
Blacklisting is ongoing, says Caprim Director
One thing Hardy may agree on with many of our readers is that blacklisting is still ongoing. Hardy was quoted by the Blacklist Support Group as saying: “Blacklisting has operated since the pyramids. There is not a HR professional in the world that does not have a filing cabinet that says ‘do not employ'”. He cited the case of drivers who were TUPE transferred from Tesco to Eddie Stobart, then made redundant. They have since not been able to find work and believe themselves to have been blacklisted. Hardy said he believes this is an indication that blacklisting is indeed ongoing.
Jack Winder, however, claimed ignorance in this regard, saying he was “well and truly retired” and had no idea whether blacklisting continues.