Theresa May is apparently minded to order a fresh public inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence on the grounds that a secret Scotland Yard report questioning the conduct and integrity of a police chief involved in the Lawrence case was not given to the Macpherson inquiry in 1998. She is anxious that confidence in the police should not be undermined, and quite right to be so. But those are the very same grounds that she should also now establish a public inquiry into recent allegations that the police and/or MI5 supplied information through the last decade which led to the blacklisting of 3,200 workers.
The blacklist was discovered after staff working for the Information Commissioner raided the offices of the Consulting Association in 2009. There had been claims that a blacklist was operating in the construction industry over the last decade, but no action was taken by the police – reminiscent of John Yates’ declining to take any action over Murdoch phone-hacking in 2006. What the ICO raid uncovered was that the vast majority of the blacklisted workers were trade union members and that 44 construction companies had funded the Consulting Association and used it to vet potential employees.
Denial of employment for discriminatory reasons such as trade union membership is of course illegal and blacklisting is prohibited un the Employment Relations regulations 2010. What is particularly poignant is that much of the information alleged against the victims may well have been false or malicious, but by being kept secret from them they were denied a chance to defend themselves.
Now there’s evidence that the police/MI5 were party to the conspiracy. David Clancy, an ICO investigator, gave evidence at a recent industrial tribunal which showed conclusively that details in some of the files could only have come from State security sources.
That’s why we now urgently need a public inquiry as to why no action about allegations of blacklisting was taken for a decade or more, why the police/MI5 appear to have passed secret information to an illegal blacklisting organisation, and whether the 44 construction companies that used it should now be prosecuted. Over to you, Mrs. May.