Monday, 2 December 2013

Acheson & others v Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

BLACKLISTING High Court claim (Acheson & others v Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd) The first ever hearing in the blacklisting High Court claim took place last Friday (29th November). The original High Court claim for nearly 100 claimants supported by the Blacklist Support Group has been in preparation since 2009 and is being led by Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors. In the summer GMB announced that they would also be taking a High Court claim for their members and last week to coincide with the TUC Day of Action on blacklisting, UNITE and UCATT also announced they would be joining the High Court claims.

In Court on Friday, Hugh Tomlinson QC of Matrix Chambers (famous for his privacy work on behalf of celebrities and for co-founding the Hacked Off phone hacking campaign) was acting on behalf of the original claim brought by Guney Clark & Ryan (GCR), was joined at a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice by John Hendy QC and barristers acting for three other newer union claims. Tomlinson called the Consulting Association 'a blacklist for trade union and political activities' and accused the firms of being involved in ' a conspiracy to injure.'  He also told the court that due to the fact that the Information Commissioner left over 90% of the documentation in the offices of the Consulting Association during the raid in 2009, 'much of the material that wasn't seized has now disappeared.'

Tomlinson made an application for a group litigation order (GLO) which would permit the four cases to be managed collectively. The reason for a GLO is that all of the claims are dealing with the same factual and legal issues and rather than have hundreds of separate cases heard in court talking about the same events, there will only be one case but with each legal team presenting their own arguments. This is a perfectly usual legal process and stops witnesses having to give evidence multiple times in multiple cases. The court’s senior master Steven Whitaker stated that the two newest cases from Ucatt and Unite were not sufficiently advanced and ruled that the he would make the GLO next April.

Several major contractors are defendants in the cases: Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, BAM, Carillion, Costain, Laing, Kier Ltd, Skanska, Vinci, Taylor Woodrow and AMEC but only Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska were even represented at the hearing.

Prior to the hearing, the companies had attempted to have the claims 'stayed' (put on hold) because of their so-called compensation scheme proposals. But GCR lawyers vigorously opposed any suggestion that the legal cases should be paused arguing that our legal cases are ready to go. In the end, the employers firms did not even raise the suggestion in court.

Speaking outside the court, Liam Dunne for GCR said: 
'Despite misleading press reports, not a single person has been offered a penny from the blacklist compensation scheme. We have no intention of stopping our legal claim against the Sir Robert McAlpine and the other firms.  The slight delay until April allows the unions to catch up but as far as Guney Clark & Ryan and our claimants are concerned it is full steam ahead.'


Blacklist Support Group video:



The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale at all our usual outlets in the North of England and beyond - see below. This issue N.V.14 has a Tameside Eye story about how Tameside has a history of involvement in blacklisting, it also contains an interview by Barry Woodling with George Tapp - the Salford electrician injured in May on an anti-blacklist picket. The Voices has been in the forthfront of the campaign against the blacklist since 2003 and the DAF dispute at Manchester Piccadilly, its editor, an electrician, was on the blacklist of the Economic League in the 1960s, and there was an attempt to blacklist him while he was working in Gibraltar in both 1964 and 1967, but at the time this intervention by the Foreign Office was resisted by the Gibraltarian authorities, and the Gibraltar Transport & General Workers Union.
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

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