Blacklisting: Significant legal and political developments

December 18, 2015
  1. High Court blacklisting litigation saw a 2 day hearing on Mon-Tues last week (7-8 Dec), with an additional evening session on Tuesday. As the blacklisting firms have already admitted their guilt to the court, the entire 2 days was taken up with legal argument over the use of expert witnesses for calculating loss of earnings.


John Hendy QC told the court that the estimated total damages for the 600 claimants is in the region of £60-70million, made up of £40m in loss of earnings and £20-30m in general damages (defamation, human rights, hurt to feelings etc..). Lawyers on behalf of blacklisted workers had applied to use the expertise of Dr Victoria Wass from Cardiff Business School, one of the leading labour market economists in the UK who has acted as an expert witness in numerous high profile cases in the past.


The firms argued against the use of Dr. Wass, arguing that the ‘regression analysis’ that she was using was ‘too complicated’ and could not be fully understood by the court (even though virtually every university student in the world is taught regression analysis as a standard statistical tool nowadays). Dr Wass is able to provide a high level of precision in her estimates of loss because she has restricted access to micro data from the Office of National Statistics labour market database. Without an ounce of irony, lawyers for the blacklisting companies, told the court that having access to the ONS personal sensitive information could potentially be a breach of human rights and data protection!


In the end, Lord Supperstone and Master Leslie refused the claimants submission – once again, judges make findings in favour of big business and against the interests of blacklisted workers. This may be a minor setback in a small skirmish but we are still going to win the war.


The next provisional hearing date is 1st February 2016. Full trial is set to start in May 2016 and will last 10 weeks.


Blacklist Support Group would like to publicly thank the various legal teams for all the hard work they have carried out on our behalf over many years – its appreciated. Special mention to Liam Dunne, who as the lead solicitor for Guney Clark & Ryan has been representing us since 2009, who has recently got married: Congratulations!


  1. John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor was the keynote speaker at a packed Blacklist Support Group parliamentary meeting in Westminster on Monday 7th. McDonnell raised a number of issues during his speech which will have major impact even before the election of a Corbyn government. A few of John McDonnell’s quotes from the meeting:

“Blacklisting was a deliberate attempt to undermine trade unions by victimising a layer of activists they could not buy off”

“Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn and myself put in amendments to legislation on the issue of blacklisting over a period of decades – no government took any notice”

“We are currently drawing up advice for Labour councils over public procurement regarding blacklisting, human rights and environmental issues”

“Company directors who orchestrated blacklisting conspiracy should have been sent to prison. Blacklisting should be made a criminal offence”

“If we can have the Leveson inquiry into celebrities phones being hacked, then why can’t there be a pubic inquiry into blacklisting?”

These remarks could have immense significance for companies involved in blacklisting.


John McDonnell was a founder member of the Blacklist Support Group who has stood with blacklisted workers on picket lines, in parliament and at our meetings ever since. We stand shoulder to shoulder with him against all the attacks from the mainstream media and are proud to call him a comrade.


Also in attendance at the BSG meeting was Sir Bill Morris and speakers including Chris Stephens MP and blacklisted activist Helen Steel.


The BSG parliamentary meeting voted unanimously that the apology given to the women activists by the Met Police should be used as a template for any future apology that blacklisted workers should expect from the blacklisting construction firms and that a representative of the BSG should be present at any ongoing talks where such matters are being discussed.


  1. Scotland

Another speaker at the BSG parliamentary meeting was Chris Stephens MP for Glasgow South West (SNP trade union coordinator at Westminster). Stephens was questioned by many in the audience including UNITE EC member Frank Morris, over why blacklisting firms were still being awarded public contracts such as Dundee Riverside and ScotRail in Scotland, despite a Scottish government procurement note on the issue. Stephens gave positive assurances that behind the scenes, this were moving in the right direction and asked the audience to wait for a Scottish government announcement very soon.


There have also been massive developments in Scotland over the past few weeks regarding the role of undercover police spying on trade unions and social justice activists. The Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing has a strict remit which only allows investigation into the activities of the political policing units in England and Wales. But following a UNITE the Union, meeting in the Scottish parliament 3 weeks ago, there have been a number of articles in the Scottish press calling for an inquiry into the role of the undercover police in Scotland.


Blacklisted environmental activist Helen Steel was another speaker at the BSG meeting and she told how she was spied on by the undercover police officer John Dines when a member of London Greenpeace during the McLibel trial in the 1980s and how she had visited Scotland with the police spy. Steel also called for the activities of the undercover police in Scotland to be fully investigated by Pitchford.


Chris Stephens MP told the BSG meeting that he fully supported the call by BSG, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) for there to be a public inquiry into the activities of undercover police in Scotland.


  1. Shrewsbury Pickets

Previously undisclosed documents have been discovered proving that the former Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath directly intervened in the Shrewsbury trial by supporting the role of the secret services in a hostile TV documentary be shown the night before the trial. “This is the real conspiracy” as Des warren famously said from the dock on the day he was sent to prison. The Shandow Home Secretary Andy Burnham raised the issue in parliament and demanded the release of all the undisclosed government documents relating to the Shrewsbury Pickets trial. . Great research work by Eileen Turnbull on behalf of the Shrewsbury 24. The government still refuse to publish the papers: 42 years after the miscarriage of justice.


  1. Carillion

Carillion have dropped their claim for £3500 worth of legal costs against blacklisted engineer Dave Smith – great investigative journalism by Mark Metcalf who knew before we did! Despite an apology to the High Court, Carillion continue to bad mouth Smith on their corporate website viewed by millions globally. Some apology!


  1. MUA

Dave Smith report: “It was my honour to represent the Blacklist Support Group at the inaugural conference of the Maritime Union of Australia Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Many BSG supporters will remember Bob Carnegie​ who toured the UK this summer, who has just been elected as MUA secretary in Queensland and made the very generous offer. The MUA are one of the most leftwing unions, alongside CFMEU and ETU provide the blue collar militancy that Australian unions are famous for worldwide. Activists from the ITF and the rank & file IDC were present and told stories of solidarity, heroism against police racism and internationalism. I spoke about blacklisting, safety and had the privilege to join Brisbane River Ferry workers on protected industrial action. I also met the crew of Fijian seafarers who had been knocked for wages who were occupying a ship who face being deported and a detention centre for standing up for their rights. Solidarity to Bob Carnegie and all the comrades at MUA”


  1. Orgreave

See below video in support of the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign calling for a full public inquiry into the events at Orgreave during the Miners Strike – another disgraceful example of the British state attack on working people prepared to stand p for their rights.


  1. Glen Hart

RMT rep Glen Hart is being victimised by London Underground Limited – support his fight for union rights


  1. Merry Xmas and festive greetings to all our friends and supporters around the world from the Blacklist Support Group.

We are in touching distance of a famous victory for the trade union movement – we could not have achieved it on our own.

Thank You for all your support over the years.


CHRISTMAS ON THE BLACKLIST by Time Served Jib Electrician
I stood up for my rights,
My workmates and my brothers,
On bleak construction sites,
I always shone a light,
For safety, and for others,
All these working men,
Have sisters, have mothers,
No work, my back a knife,
What will I tell the missus,
I’m blacklisted for life,
And not just for Christmas.







Leave a Reply