Socialist Worker

Cops gave information to the illegal blacklist

Issue No. 2367

Police spied on trade unionists and passed the information to an illegal secret blacklist funded by some of Britain’s biggest construction firms.

Former undercover cop Peter Francis says his supervisors asked him in the 1990s to find evidence that an activist was in a “sham marriage”. She was from the US and they wanted to deport her.

Information about her later turned up in a blacklist file on bricklayer Frank Smith, who was in a relationship with the activist. Francis says this includes the information he had found—suggesting it could only have come from the police.

Smith’s file also notes he was “under constant watch (officially) and seen as politically dangerous”.

Two other trade unionists say that information on their files was only known to a small number of anti-racist activists. Francis says this was information he found while undercover in their campaign group.

It was Francis who recently revealed that the police spied on supporters of Stephen Lawrence’s family.


The Scottish Affairs select committee is also investigating blacklisting. It has found evidence of a meeting between the Consulting Association, which ran the blacklist, and the police unit monitoring political activists to discuss sharing information.

The meeting took place in 2008, just a year before the blacklist was shut down by the information commissioner.

The Consulting Association compiled files on more than 3,200 workers—mostly trade union activists—which construction bosses could consult to avoid hiring them.

Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said “The mountain of evidence about police and security services spying on trade unionists is now damning. 

“This is not about a couple of rogue officers—this is deliberate state collusion with big business.”

The campaign says the police still refuse to disclose documents that prove their links to the blacklist. It says they continue to spy on activists.

“This is a cover-up, plain and simple,” said Dave. “How can victims of this human rights abuse have any faith whatsoever in the truth being uncovered when the police are investigating themselves?”

The TUC has called a day of action against blacklisting on 20 November, with protests outside parliament in Westminster, the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff.

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