Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keeping His Name Out, While Putting Your's On the List

 McALPINE'S name as employer of Irish workes inspired Dominic Behan's song.

THAT McAlpine name keeps cropping up! This time it was Cullum of that ilk, director of several companies within the Sir Robert McAlpine group, though his former associate Ian Kerr seemed reluctant to let slip his name when appearing before a House of Commons committee.

The Scottish Affairs Select Committee, investigating blacklisting, was interviewing Kerr about his work as Chief Executive of the Consulting Association, which acted as a successor to the notorious Economic League, keeping files on thousands of workers. The man who kept the lists appeared accompanied by his wife who had looked after the books and assisted in his work.

Kerr explained that the Consulting Association work was particularly relevant in the building industry, because of its "transient" nature, with workers being recruited when a site opens.  He went on to mention Skanska, Tarmac,  Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty as among construction companies that had sought information on potential employees,  for the Crossrail project, PFI hospitals, Wembley Stadium and major government buildings, as well as the Olympic site.

But before this the former Consulting Association chief had seemed reluctant to name names, prevaricating when asked who attended meetings and only referring to their positions, such as "the chairman", until pressed to say who this was.  

It transpired that not only were McAlpines a user of the Consulting Association's services, but Cullum McAlpine was its first chairman after providing a £10,000 loan to start it up following the closure of the Economic League in 1993. Consulting Association meetings took place at St Robert McAlpine's London headquarters.

Ian Kerr, a former Birmingham schoolteacher, joined the Economic League in 1969 - forty years before the raid on the Consulting Association's officein Droitwich which led to files being confiscated and Kerr being prosecuted under the Data Protection Act.

We now learn that Sir Robert McAlpine paid Kerr's £5,000 fine, solicitors' fees and costs, including finding £25,000 redundancy money for the four staff. All this was meant to keep McAlpine's name out of the picture.

Kerr was paid £50k per year, plus car, bonus, BUPA subscription and  life insurance. Perhaps this was an appropriate income and benefits for a man who met with company directors to impart the results of his dirty work. That included infiltrating union meetings, or hiring others to do so, so as to get information on people they were targetting.

Besides trade unionists, particularly those who had raised health and safety issues and acted as workers' representatives on the lob, the Consulting Association had begun stretching its remit to montor the activities of environmental campaigners. Files were held on some 200 of these. 

Police held regular meetings with senior members of the blacklisting operation with information flowing both ways. But it was also said that union officials provided information about their own members that ended up on the blacklist files. Ian Davidson MP described this as "the union putting the kybosh on someones employment"

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