Monday, 2 April 2012

Blacklist Support Group in Parliament

Report of Blacklist Support Group (BSG) meeting was held in Parliament on Tues 27th March 2012 hosted by John McDonnell MP (start time was variable)

25 in attendance - Many apologies from far & wide

1. Public Inquiry
Following the article in The Observer exposing the collusion of the police and security services in the blacklisting operation, questions have been asked in the UK & Scottish Parliament.

John McDonnell MP has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for a Public Inquiry and has raised the issue of a Public Inquiry into blacklisting with David Cameron at Prime Minister's Question Time

John told the meeting that he will be pushing for an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons sometime between Easter and the Summer break. This will potentially allow approx 30 - 60 mins full discussion on the floor of the Commons and is decided via a ballot of MPs

Meeting agreed:
1.1 Call upon the unions to circulate their sponsored MPs to sign up to the Early Day Motion and support the Adjournment Debate ballot
1.2 Blacklist Support Group members to contact their MPs on the same issue.
1.3.BSG to circulate a resolution to union branches / EC's calling for a Public Inquiry to be sent to union conferences and TUC.
1.4 For a lobby of parliament by blacklisted workers and supporters once the date of the Adjournment debate is known.

2. IPCC process
John McDonnell MP & Michael Meacher MP have both written parliamentary questions to Theresa May (Home Secretary) calling for a full Public Inquiry.
The written response has been that no public inquiry will be set up until the issue is at least initially raised with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). We have effectively been instructed to go to the IPCC by the Home Secretary.

John McDonnell and Kat Kraig (Christian Khan solicitors / Haldane Society) explained the process and the likely hoops we will need to jump through.
To get the maximum out of the IPCC process it is necessary to submit a comprehensive witness statement. We have solicitors who are willing to assist in this process. To do it properly, it will need some funding.

Meeting agreed:
2.1 Lodge a complaint collectively by bringing together individuals who have information on their files which looks like it was supplied by the police or security services.
2.2 Anyone who feels there is information on their files that could not have been supplied by a manager on a building site should contact the BSG so that we can bring together to lodge the IPCC complaint (this will normally relate to attendance at political meetings/protests at evening or weekend or any criminal records)
2.3 Request that the unions provide financial assistance for this process - including RMT

3. Employment Tribunals
Nick Toms, David Renton and Declan Owens (lawyers representing the vast majority of the blacklisted ET cases) gave an update of the latest ET cases. The vast majority of cases have lost - mainly thrown out at the Pre-Hearing Review stage because theye were submitted "out of time". 2 cases (Nolan and Cullinaine) have been to the EAT but neither of these cases have progressed to full merits hearing.

Of the many ET claims initially taken only 3 cases have been successful - Willis, Tattersall and Acheson (all represented by Nick Toms supported by UNITE) with "Aggravated Damages" being awarded because of the use of the blacklist.

The Steve Acheson and Tony Jones cases from Manchester ET last week were both reserved judgements and we await the decision. The history of decisions from Judge Brain in Manchester has never been positive to date.

Dave Smith written ET judgement arrived that day and was circulated - David Renton explained that the judgement is very useful and allows for an appeal to the EAT and the European Court of Human Rights (now being prepared but will take time and cost money).

UNITE have stated that they have won an ET claim under the new Blacklisting Regs

There are a tiny handful of ET claims still "live" in the system including Roy Bentham (UCATT member from Liverpool). Roy is representing himself.

Meeting agreed:
3.1 Ask the unions to revisit their attitude to all the live ET claims with the hope that they will support the small number of claims still running (even if they lose, they may generate a few more ECHR cases)
3.2 Circulate the latest ET judgements

4. UNITE Data Protection claim
UNITE are advertising on their website for blacklisted members to contact the union who are intending to take individual stand alone data-protection claims. At least one claim has so far been lodged.

Meeting agreed:
4.1 Encourage UNITE members to contact the union.

5. Scottish Parliament
Phil Chamberlain explained that Drew Smith MSP (Labour Shadow Justice Secretary) has raised the issue of a public Inquiry in the Scottish parliament with similar non-committal responses from the Holyrood government.

Meeting agreed:
5.1 Anyone from Scotland or with Scottish connections (relatives or freinds) should contact their MSP

6. Europe
Glenis Wilmott MEP (Labour Leader in Europe) and Stephen Hughes MEP have managed to get an anti-blacklisting amendment inserted into a Report on Health & Safety which has been passed at the European parliament. The amendment is based upon information suggested by Professor Keith Ewing

Meeting agreed:
6.1 Pass on sincere thanks for work being done in Europe.

7. High Court claim
John Townsend and Liam Dunne from Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors held a private session with their clients to update them about progress in the High Court claim.

Meeting agreed:
7.1 To encourage blacklisted workers to contact GCR direct to discuss the case
7.2 BSG will provide updates when appropriate

8. AOB.
Lawyers to draw up a list of methods by which individuals may be able to access unredacted files. Once complied this will be circulated.

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