New details have now emerged about the precise nature of the blacklist in the construction industry. The companies behind the blacklist are confident they will not be prosecuted.
Skanska and Sir Robert McAlpine were invoiced for by far the largest amounts by Consulting Association, the company that ran the blacklist.
Skanska was invoiced £28,122 and Sir Robert McAlpine was sent a bill for more than £26,840 last year.
Many of those who were invoiced for the largest amounts are no longer being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It says it is now only looking into 17 contractors over the “covert” database.
The ICO has not disclosed which of the 46 firms named after the raid on the Consulting Association in March were now being issued with enforcement notices.
Skanska said, “The commissioner has written to Skanska to inform us that they have decided not to take any enforcement action against us.”
Sir Robert McAlpine said, “Sir Robert McAlpine shared all the costs with the information commissioner who confirmed in a letter that no enforcement action would be taken.”
Other contractors to rack up big bills with the association last year include Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Cleveland Bridge.
With each search of the blacklist costing £2.20, the figures appear to indicate that some companies undertook thousands of searches.
The ICO said that construction firms had paid out almost £480,000 for blacklisting between April 2006 and February this year.
Consulting Association administrator Ian Kerr was fined £5,000 for his role in controlling the blacklist and, in doing so, breaching the Data Protection Act.
The sentence has sparked anger.
George Guy is the Ucatt union’s north west regional secretary and his members protested outside Kerr’s hearing.
He said, “A large number of Ucatt’s activists in the north west were blacklisted by Ian Kerr – they want justice.
“Everyone involved in the blacklisting must be brought to book.”
A ballot of more than 2,000 engineering construction workers in the Unite and GMB unions at seven petrochemical plants and power stations for strike action over jobs is set to begin on 11 August.