IN the High Court yesterday (Wed 4th May), Lord Justice Supperstone ruled that the blacklisting High Court trial start date will be postponed until 7th June. This is after Anthony Hudson QC representing the remaining UNITE claimants requested the delay. The multi-million pound settlement of several hundred claimants last Friday means that Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors, GMB and UCATT have now withdrawn from the group litigation, meaning Thompsons solicitors will now have to carry out all of the tasks which until last week had been divided between all 4 legal teams.
The confirmation of the new timetable means that Cullum McAlpine, the disgraced businessman at the centre of the blacklist scandal, will be forced to give evidence on Tuesday 21st June. The public and press gallery will be packed for that day of the show trial - especially after McAlpine refused to answer so many pertinent questions when appearing before a Select Committee investigation into blacklisting in 2013.
In total there are 97 UNITE claimants still involved in the litigation including 7 lead cases that will be used to assess the value of the compensation for all remaining blacklisted workers in the litigation. The High Court was also told that there is one blacklisted construction worker who is now participating in the trial as a 'litigant in person'.
It was also confirmed that the Information Commissioners Office has only in the past day or so released further additional documents seized during the 2009 raid on the notorious Consulting Association as part of a Third Party Disclosure Order. This evidence was supposed to have been fully disclosed years ago - not less than a week before the trial was due to start.
Steve Kelly, blacklisted electrician from Essex and Blacklist Support Group co-chair commented:
'My claim is still live in the High Court and I cannot wait to see Cullum McAlpine squirm in the dock. In his lust for profit, that pillar of the establishment has violated our human rights: he deserves to pay for what he has inflicted upon our families.
'The British legal system has always been stacked in favour of big business and because of the destruction of mountains of documents, some blacklisted workers have been forced to accept settlements that fall a long way short of justice. But our fight has never just been about compensation.
'Even to this day, workers are victimised for standing up for their basic legal rights by the very same companies that have publicly apologised for their role in the blacklist. We demand jobs for blacklisted workers on major projects. We demand our rights on sites. Until we get proper justice, we will mobilise to fight them industrially and campaign politically for a public inquiry. I make a promise, whatever happens in the High Court, the fight against blacklisting isn't over.'
Unite statement on High Court ‘blacklisting’ trial adjournment
Unite director of legal services, Howard Beckett said:
'Unite applied for an adjournment at the High Court today (Wednesday 4 May) and this was granted by Lord Justice Supperstone until Tuesday 7 June. The reason for the application was that the four claimant teams have now become one which meant that it was impractical for the trial, estimated to take 11 weeks, to start on Monday 9 May. In addition, some late disclosure has come in from the Information Commissioner’s Office and this evidence needs to be considered and evaluated by our legal team. Unite understands that the date for Cullum McAlpine, the alleged architect of the "blacklisting" scandal, to give evidence is Tuesday 21 June. Unite still represents about 90 members whose jobs were ruined and lives turned upside down by the ‘blacklisting’ scandal. Unite has not reached any settlement although we continue to negotiate to achieve justice. The key question that has to be asked of the construction firms, which made an unprecedented admission of guilt last October, is why have they not yet settled? Unite continues to seek maximum compensation and justice on behalf of our members following those admissions.'
Blacklist Support Group