Court records show that in an unguarded moment a former chair of the blacklisting agency, the Consulting Association, admitted to destroying vital files belonging to that organisation in order to conceal evidence and, thus, contradicting all previous denials on this matter. Furthermore, it is now known that since the collapse of the Consulting Association this man is continuing his work in employment ‘consultancy’ – albeit on a smaller scale and on a self-employed basis. Evidence is presented below…
The demand for justice by blacklisted construction workers may now be entering a new phase. A week ago over 700 construction workers were awarded more than 75 million pounds compensation in an out-of-court settlement – the money coming from the coffers of the constructions firms who were at the heart of the blacklisting project. The firms concerned issued an apology, which was seen by the workers as hollow and meaningless. But if the construction firms thought by issuing that apology and paying out the £75 million, that would be the end of it, they were sadly mistaken. Now the blacklisted workers are seeking to prosecute Mr Cullum McAlpine – a director of Sir Robert McAlpine – who was chairman of the blacklisting organisation, known as the Consulting Association – and Mr David Cochrane – who was HR manager at Sir Robert McAlpine and, later, also chairman of the Consulting Association.
More than 3000 names were discovered on files held by the the Consulting Association during a raid in 2009 by the Information Commission Office (ICO). But it is known – as per ICO evidence (see below) – that many more files existed, containing thousands more blacklisted names.
Those files were believed to have been destroyed by Consulting Association chief executive, Ian Kerr (who died in 2012). Proof of this is in the form of a handwritten note, which is reproduced above. Mr Cochrane also made a disposition to the High Court – quoted below – that would appear to back this claim.
The infamous note, taken from Mr Kerr’s notebook, is from a meeting on 2 March 2009 and records Mr Cochrane instructing Kerr. It reads “Ring everyone – Cease trading – Close down. We don’t exist anymore – Destroy data – Stop processing of …”
A second note, dated 23 February 2009, records a conversation between Kerr and Cochrane. It reads: “ALL mailing lists – shredded – NOT TAKEN BY ICO.” Another instruction to Kerr reads: “Cullum McAlpine – his name – remove this from any documents.”
Mr David Clancy, an Information Commission Office (ICO) investigator, confirmed that thousands of Consulting Association files went missing. He told the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, “There was a lot more stuff that wasn’t covered by our warrant.” When he was asked “When you say a lot more, did you seize ten percent of the stuff, five percent or 90 percent?” Clancy replied, “It’s very difficult. I would say between five and ten percent of the stuff. We didn’t search every item within the office because our warrant said the existence of a blacklist. Once we’d found that our search in theory should stop because we’d found the evidence we were looking for. What the other 90 or 95 percent was I can’t comment on because we didn’t go through lots of it. We just took the information that was relevant to our inquiry.”
David Cochrane denies any involvement in concealing evidence, but according to court records, by his own admission, this was most definitely not the case.
Earlier this year, in January, Mr Cochrane appeared at the High Court as a witness. Mr Cochrane told the court that Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd relationship with the Consulting Association was managed by Dennis Cundall, SRM’s Industrial Relations Manager. Cochrane explained “Dennis briefed me on the Consulting Association meetings”. Cochrane, himself, took over this liaison role in 2003.
Cochrane then went on to admit the following:
“I said that if Mr Kerr still held documents relating to to the Consulting Association (which he had told me he had disposed of) he should provide them to me. I subsequently received an envelope of documents from Mr Kerr which was about an inch thick, which I destroyed.” (Quote from section 160 of Mr Cochrane’s testimony to the court.)
According to his LinkedIn file, Mr Cochrane now works, on a self-employed basis, as a “Independent Human Resources Professional”. Little is known about the nature of this work, though its description is suitably vague and given Mr Cochrane’s extensive background in employment vetting – i.e. blacklisting – it would not be unreasonable to assume that vetting – which is not illegal – is part and parcel of his current HR consultancy business.
Projects that used the Consulting Association blacklist included GCHQ, hospital PFI projects, power stations and the Jubilee Line tube extension. Wembley Stadium and the Millennium Dome. In October 2013, the IPCC confirmed that the police had colluded in the blacklist, saying it was “likely that all special branches were involved in providing information” to the list. Finally, it should be noted that the information held on the Consulting Association’s card index system dated as far back as 1968; Ian Kerr worked for the Economic League from 1969.
Member organisations of the Consulting Association:
The ICO listed over 40 construction companies who were current or previous users of the Consulting Association:
- AMEC (Amec Building Ltd, Amec Construction Ltd, Amec Facilities Ltd, Amec Ind Div, Amec Process & Energy Ltd)
- Amey Construction
- B Sunley & Sons
- Balfour Beatty
- Balfour Kilpatrick
- Ballast (Wiltshire) PLC
- BAM Construction (HBG Construction)
- BAM Nuttall (Edmund Nuttall Ltd)
- Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I)
- Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd
- Costain UK Ltd
- Crown House Technologies (Carillion/Tarmac Construction)
- Diamond M & E Services
- Dudley Bower & Co Ltd
- Emcor (Drake & Scull) – ‘Ex Ref’, Emcor Rail
- G Wimpey Ltd
- Haden Young (Balfour Beatty)
- Kier Ltd
- John Mowlem Ltd
- Laing O’Rourke (Laing Ltd)
- Lovell Construction (UK) Ltd
- Miller Construction Limited
- Morgan Ashurst, Morgan Est
- Morrison Construction Group
- N G Bailey
- Shepherd Engineering Services
- SIAS Building Services
- Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd
- Skanska (Kværner/Trafalgar House Plc)
- SPIE (Matthew Hall)
- Tarmac Group
- Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd
- Turriff Construction Ltd
- Tysons Contractors
- Walter Llewellyn & Sons Ltd
- Whessoe Oil & Gas
- Willmott Dixon
- Vinci SA (Norwest Holst Group)