For its evidence session of Tuesday 27 November, the Scottish Affairs Committee secured the attendance of Ian Kerr, a former consultant prosecuted for putting together “blacklists” of construction industry workers which were sold to businesses including Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine, Laing O'Rourke and Costain.
The prosecution was brought by the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, who closed down Kerr's business and sent warning letters to 40 companies involved. The Information Commmissioner's Office raided his offices in 2009 and found that he was holding details on 3,213 construction workers and traded their personal details for profit. He pled guilty to offences under the Data Protection Act and got a £5,000 fine. Kerr’s database was used by over 40 construction companies and included information about construction workers’ personal relationships, trade union activity and employment history. There is evidence to suggest that these files were used for vetting potential employees.
It appears that Kerr began investigating trade unionists and leftwing activists in the 1970s for the Economic League, a secretive, rightwing vetting organisation set up in 1919.
Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“We are grateful to Mr Kerr for coming to the session, which should prove a very interesting and valuable addition to this inquiry. “
At 2.30pm in Committee Room 6, Palace of Westminster
- Mr Ian Kerr gave evidence
Statement from Mr Kerr
Mr Ian Kerr submitted written evidence to the Committee, a copy of which can be read here.