Corporate spying revelations raise fresh blacklisting questions

Unite, the UK’s largest union, has renewed calls for a public inquiry into blacklisting, after new revelations of how corporate intelligence firms infiltrated left-wing and environmental groups.

The revelations, which were made today (13 December) by ‘The Guardian’ and the ‘Bureau of Investigative Journalism,’ increase the concern that information compiled by these organisations which include companies C2I and the Inkerman Group, found its way onto the notorious Consulting Association blacklist, or other blacklists.

Of particular interest are the revelations that the named organisations and other similar groups spied on environmental groups. When the Consulting Association was raided in 2009 by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), it was discovered that, as well as trade unionists, the organisation was blacklisting environmental activists.

However, while the names of the environmental activists were seized by the ICO in the raid, the corresponding files, which contained the details on why they were being blacklisted, were not taken and were then destroyed by Ian Kerr the head of the Consulting Association.

It is known that some of the information on the Consulting Association blacklist could only have been supplied by the police or the security forces and there are now fears that information was also compiled by corporate intelligence firms.

Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “These revelations are yet another reason why it is imperative that we have a full public inquiry into blacklisting.

“Given the scale of the material generated by the corporate intelligence firms, it would be astounding that the information they compiled did not find its way onto blacklists.

“As a result of the government’s reluctance to do the right thing and hold a public inquiry, it would be highly beneficial if a select committee could replicate the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into blacklisting and call these shadowy corporate intelligence firms to account.

“We also need to fully understand whether these organisations were operating within the law.

“Blacklisted victims still have huge questions about how and why they were blacklisted and they deserve answers. These latest revelations raise further issues which need to be answered.”