Blacklisting allegations result in High Court claim

The construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine has been embroiled in a “blacklisting” scandal after allegations of illict practice emerged in a recent High Court claim against the firm.

Sir Robert McAlpine – a construction firm – was formed in 1847 by its eponymous owner, Sir McAlpine. Recent projects undertaken by the company include the Millenium Dome, the Millenium Bridge, the Emirates Stadium and the Olympic Stadium for London 2012. However, details emerged recently that executives of the company were illegally conspiring to bar people from working for both Sir Robert McAlpine and other companies in the construction sector through the creation, distribution and updating of a database held by a third-party business.

Cullum McAlpine, a director of the company and a member of the founding family, has emerged as one of the names that has been linked to the blacklisting conspiracy. It has been alleged that Mr McAlpine communicated with Ian Kerr, a director of the Consulting Association (“TCA”) who, it has been suggested, possessed and updated the database. TCA was dissolved last year and Ian Kerr died last month, shortly after giving evidence to a parliamentary committee.

The claim commenced after workers alleged that TCA, funded by a number of large players in the construction industry, had been running a database of blacklisted individuals for more than 30 years. The database was seized three years ago in a police investigation but the nature of the information held on the database only emerged last year during an Employment Tribunal claim by one of its victims, Mr Dave Smith. Mr Smith, an engineer, had gained possession of relevant parts of the database which showed that he had a 36-page-long file against his name and that he had been blacklisted for highlighting health and safety breaches on sites.

It also emerged that the data held by TCA related to the Trade Union activities of workers in the construction industry and held information related to industrial action, political views and affiliations, and membership of Trade Unions. The 81 Claimants in the High Court are seeking damages and compensation for loss of earnings believed to amount to up to £17 million. More potential victims are expected to come forward since the publication of details of the case.

It has further been claimed that Mr Kerr warned Mr McAlpine of the dangers that the TCA database posed to the public image of the Sir Robert McAlpine business – and of the potential damage to Mr McAlpine’s own public image if details of the allegations emerged.

Redmans are employment law solicitors based in Richmond and the City of London.