Met Police admit spying on trade unionists for blacklisting bosses
The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that officers, including those working for Special Branch, infiltrated trade unions and provided information to the construction industry blacklist.
The revelation comes in a formal letter sent by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin in response to a complaint made by the Blacklist Support Group to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The letter states:
“Allegation: Police, including Special Branches, supplied information that appeared on the Blacklist, funded by the country’s major construction firms, The Consulting Association and/or other agencies, in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. The Report concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation that the police or Special Branches supplied information is ‘Proven’.
The letter goes on to explain:
“Sections of the policing community throughout the UK had both overt and covert contact with external organization, including the Economic League”
Adding that internal police investigations into the role of undercover police spying on political activists, Operation Herne & Operation Reuben had identified an:
“improper flow of information from Special Branch to external organisations, which ultimately appeared on the blacklist”.
Allegations of police collusion in blacklisting were first made back in 2012 but the claims were strenuously denied by the authorities; until now. Despite the Met Police publicly admitting that the accusations by blacklisted workers were ‘proven’, no action will be taken against any police officer.
Undercover police officer turned whistleblower Peter Francis said: “That this allegation is finally proven does not surprise me at all. I will truthfully answer any questions that the Blacklist Support Group, trade unions and their solicitors wish to ask me, about what I personally knew about Blacklisting, under oath at the ongoing public inquiry into undercover policing.”
John McDonnell, who has championed the cause of blacklisted workers in Parliament and was the first MP to raise the issue of possible police collusion, said: “It is now abundantly clear that various arms of the state including the police colluded in the blacklisting process. This is one of the hidden scandals of the abuse of civil liberties in our country that needs to be recognised fully and addressed. The people involved need to be brought to book.”
Blacklisted workers were also outraged at the length of time the internal police investigation has taken. The original complaint was made in 2012 but the formal response was only received last week, the letter explains:
“The initial investigation report was concluded on 14th February 2016, marked for the MPS’s Commissioner only due to its sensitivity”
The letter arrives at the same time that the public inquiry looking into the role of the undercover police from the Special Demonstration Squad published confirmation of the existence of the ‘Special Branch Industrial Intelligence Section’ on their website; a division of Special Branch that spied on trade unions.
Intelligence gathered by undercover officers and other sections of the police were collated by this unit and shared with major employers. Despite claims by the Blacklist Support Group and Peter Francis, this is the first time the police have confirmed that the Special Branch Industrial Intelligence Section exists.
Dave Smith, secretary of Blacklist Support Group, said: “Six years we’ve waited for this. The report has sat on the Commissioner’s desk for the past two years! When we first talked about police collusion in blacklisting, people thought we were conspiracy theorists. We were told, ‘things like that don’t happen here’. With this admission from the Met Police, our quest for the truth has been vindicated.
“The police are supposed to detect crime, instead they infiltrated trade unions and provided intelligence to an unlawful corporate conspiracy. This is why we need the public inquiry into undercover policing to be open and transparent, in order to get to the truth about how police intelligence was shared with private sector third parties including major companies. If it’s happening in construction; the very same thing will be happening in other sectors”.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “This is a major breakthrough the police have finally been forced to admit what we already knew that they were knowingly and actively involved in the blacklisting of construction workers. It is disgraceful that they have chosen to sit on this admission of guilt for so long.
“This admission is yet another reason why we need a full public inquiry into blacklisting. It is also why it is absolutely essential that the inquiry into undercover policing led by Judge Mitting is entirely transparent. That inquiry’s primary focus must be about exposing the abuses that undercover police officers were responsible for, rather than protecting the identities of the police officers involved.”
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