UK police colluded in blacklisting of workers
22 March 2019
The release of a previously secret report exposes how the police collaborated with big companies to blacklist workers.
The report was marked on its front cover “[Police] Commissioner only.” While the released version is heavily redacted, it shows that police agencies including the Special Branch secret service and its infiltration unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), colluded with blacklisting agencies such as the Consulting Association (CA), a secretive body funded by employers, and its predecessor the Economic League (EL).
Blacklisting was only made illegal at the end of the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009, and even then only as a civil offence, not a criminal offence.
Big businesses used the CA and the secret police to spy on workers and hired and fired them based on the information collected—often lies and distortions. The blacklisted workers and their families were condemned to a life of poverty and hardship.
One worker was falsely described by the police as having a link to terrorism, ensuring he was refused employment. Showing how the EL worked in 1978, the case was uncovered as a result of a senior police officer who was related to the blacklisted worker and intervened on his behalf.
An active trade unionist, the worker had applied for a job making training videos for a company with links to the construction firms. The company asked the EL for information on him, causing the EL to go to the police “due to the perceived risk of involvement in education.”
“The receiving officer’s initial inquiries revealed a potential link to [redacted] which in his opinion had not been resolved satisfactorily… he returned to EL asking for any further…