Wednesday, 21 March 2012

History of the Blacklist & the MI5 Connection

RECENT findings about the unhealthy relationships of police and newspaper editors at the Leveson Inquiry, at which Lord Justice Leveson will examine the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians, and the strange story about the security services and the police in relation to a blacklist in the building trade told on the 4th, March on the front page Sunday OBSERVER by Daniel Boffey, seems now have a much longer pedigree judging from a recently unearthed article in The Independent on the 7th September 2001:

MI5 offers to spy for private firms

MI5 has told some of Britain's biggest companies that it may be prepared to provide intelligence on their business partners and rivals abroad.
For the first time, the security service this week openly invited representatives from industry and finance to its headquarters in Millbank, London, for a seminar called Secret Work in an Open Society.

The Independent has learnt that in between coffee and a buffet lunch, those attending were given a talk by Sir Stephen Lander, MI5's director general, on "What is the security service for?", during which he said companies ought to ask for help more often.

Since the end of the Cold War, MI5 has been trying to evolve into a service more interested in catching criminals and terrorists than foreign spies. This week's move will be seen as another attempt to re-invent itself as a more user-friendly service. Among the companies invited to attend were BT, Rolls-Royce, HSBC, Allied Domecq, Consignia, BP, Ernst & Young, Cadbury Schweppes and BAE Systems. Of the 64 executives invited, a high proportion were in market development, security or risk-assessment.

'Sir Stephen said he was sure that MI5 could help business more if only it were asked,' said one delegate. 'In situations where we are working abroad,' he said 'MI5 might have information on companies or individuals it could help us with if it did not involve breaching legislation on data protection or human rights.' 'He made the point that, increasingly, organised crime, drugs and money laundering are our common enemy. When getting into deals abroad - particularly Eastern Europe at the moment - you can get into bed with the wrong people if you don't have good risk- assessment information on them. Basically, he was anxious that MI5 shouldn't be thought of solely as a domestic organisation ... In return, he said there might be occasions when we can pass information back.'

The list of delegates gives an insight into the sort of executive MI5 is trying to reach: Nigel Carpenter, BP's deputy head of group security in the eastern hemisphere; Mike McGinty, security director at BAE Systems; Mike Harris, information security manager for Consignia; Michael Weller, BT's head of government security; and John Smith, head of security for the Prudential Corporation.

The seminar was organised in conjunction with the Whitehall and Industry Group, a body that aims to bridge the gap between business and government. Its patrons include Lord Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods and the Better Regulation task force in the Cabinet Office; Sir Andrew Turnbull, permanent secretary to the Treasury; Sir George Mathewson, chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group; Sir Richard Wilson, Cabinet Secretary and head of the Home Civil Service; and Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry.

The practice of using the country's intelligence service to benefit companies is one performed in the United States for a number of years. There is evidence that it has used a communications eavesdropping system called Echelon to gather sensitive information on rivals in the European Union that has been passed on to US business. There is no suggestion that the British services intend to go that far, but this is thought to be the first time MI5 has brought in so many senior executives.

Even though they were not explicitly asked to keep the meeting secret, none of the delegates approached by The Independent yesterday [6th, September 2001] returned calls. In spite of a number of approaches, MI5 failed to comment. [taken from The Independent: 7th, September 2001]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Michael Meacher MP has written on his Blog of the recent article by Daniel Boffery in The Observer [4/03/12] highlighting the blacklisting of 3,20 construction workers. Mr Meacher saying that the revealations that this blacklisting was 'actively aided by the police and security services raises alarming questions' writes: 'Thatcher used the police in a highly partisan manner as a paramilitary force to break the miners, and again to beat down the Wapping strike a year later. More recently top-level police officers have been found colluding with News International over extensive phone-hacking or accepting bribes for the supply of newsworthy information.... [here] There is no threat of violence which might justify police involvement, only the desire of building employers running dodgy sites to escape proseqution for health and safety infringements when building work is the most hazardous of all occupations. In effect here are police conniving with the employers in the breach of the law and depriving over 3,000 workers whose details were found on the Consulting association database form obtaining their most fundamental right to a job.'

'I have have put down a Parliamentary Question demanding a public inquiry. into the involvement of the police and/ or MI5 in the supply of clandestine information designed toprevent certain individuals, nearly always trade unionists, from getting work.'