Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Vince Cable & the Blacklist!

LAWYERS acting on behalf of Vince Cable have today presented legal documents that for the first time concede that blacklisting of trade unionists is a breach of human rights. The legal documents drawn up by Daniel Stilitz QC relate to the ongoing case of Smith v Carillion. Dave Smith a union activist in the building industry was covertly spied on and blacklisted by the construction multinational as part of the Consulting Association blacklist scandal.
The test case which started in 2009 gained considerable media coverage when Smith lost his Employment Tribunal even though the company admitted that their managers supplied information about him to the illegal blacklist because of his trade union activities as a UCATT safety rep. Smith lost the case because he was an agency worker and therefore not covered by UK employment law, which only protects direct employees. The original tribunal judgement identified that Smith "has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy"
The case is currently at the Court of Appeal stage, where John Hendy QC is arguing that blacklisting breached Article 8 (privacy) & Article 11 (freedom of association) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Human rights are supposed to protect everyone but if UK law cannot protect Smith because he is an agency worker, then the court is being asked to issue a "Declaration of Non-Compatibility" with the ECHR.
The Secretary of State of Business, Innovation and Skills has now intervened in the case and the written submission for the very first time, presents the UK government's legal position on the human rights issue.
Paragraph 58 reads: "The Secretary of State accepts that the government the Appellant's [Smith] Article 8 rights were engaged by the conduct of the Respondent. There has been an interference with his right to respect his family life due to covert collection of data on him.
Paragraph 61 reads: "The Secretary of State accepts that the Appellant's Article 11 rights were engaged by the activities of the Respondent.... but for the issue of his employment status"
This is the UK government admitting that blacklisting of trade unionists is a breach of article 8 and article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the only reason that Smith did not win his case in the Employment Tribunal was because of his employment status. Despite this massive legal admission, the UK government has now intervened in the case in order to fight against Dave Smith and is arguing that the Court should not issue a declaration of non-compatibility. 
The hearing will take place on 5th-6th November 2014. 
Dave Smith said:
"Blacklisted workers have always known that the illegal blacklisting conspiracy by multinational construction companies was a breach of our human rights. We have waited over 5 years for this to be confirmed but finally the British government has officially admitted it. We feel totally vindicated for the stand we have taken. The fact that the UK government has admitted I was a victim of human rights abuse but is now going to fight against me in court is beyond belief.
The legal challenge is just one part of our ongoing fight for justice. We will not stop until the whole sordid scandal is exposed.
We are in court on the 5th November - expect fireworks!"
Full written submission by the UK government attached
Attached photo is of Free Representation Unit Legal team (L-R) Declan Owens, David Renton (Garden Court Chambers), Dave Smith, John Hendy QC (Old Square Chambers)

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