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Blacklist Support Group latest

25th January 2016

Blacklist Support Group latest

High Court orders blacklist firms to disclose further evidence
and issues costs of £100,000 against them

On Friday 22 Jan, the High Court made judgments against blacklisting firms; Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci PLC ordering them to disclose further evidence from back up computer tapes of emails that despite previous court orders, they had failed to provide.

The two day hearing before Lord Justice Supperstone and Master Leslie heard revelation after revelation about the extent of destruction of documents by the firms relating to their involvement with the Consulting Association blacklisting body. The final decision of the hearing resulted in costs being awarded against the companies to cover the full two day hearing, estimated to be in excess of £100,000.

Dinah Rose QC, representing the 600 blacklisted workers in the litigation, told the court that household names such as “Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty and Carillion had destroyed the lives of thousands of working men and women” and that their continued conduct was designed to “cover their tracks”.

The role of Cullum McAlpine, director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd (SRM) and founding Chairman of the Consulting Association blacklisting body came in for particular criticism. Despite a court order requiring full disclosure, not a single email or document to or from Cullum McAlpine, his personal assistant or from David Cochrane final chairman of TCA have been disclosed. The court was even told how in 2011 all hard copies of correspondence between Cullum McAlpine and the Consulting Association had been destroyed. Dinah Rose QC told the court that “Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has been evasive with conduct intended to conceal the central role of Cullum McAlpine. Cullum McAlpine is a very important man. For the sake of retaining trust in the British legal system, he must not allowed to get away with a cover up.”

The court was also shown evidence that David Cochrane (SRM) chairman of the Consulting Association at the time of its discovery had contacted the blacklisting organisation’s chief executive Ian Kerr instructing him to “ring everyone - destroy all the data”. It was revealed that Cochrane had told Kerr to keep Cullum McAlpine’s name out of the press and large sums of money were transferred to the bank account of Ian Kerr’s daughters in the summer of 2009. 

Balfour Beatty was also highlighted when it was revealed that, despite instructions to the contrary, the PC and laptop of Elaine Gallagher, main contact for the company with TCA had both been wiped in April 2013. Trevor Watcham from Balfour Beatty was chairman of the Consulting Association from 2004-5 but his entire email history was deleted in 2011 and not a single document from him has been disclosed. It was also disclosed to the court that an internal Balfour Beatty database containing the names of construction workers who had been involved in union activities had been discovered on the laptop of Gerry Harvey, director of Human Resources, still employed by the company at their Glasgow head office. The comments “not required” and “do not re-employ” appeared next to the names of the union members and the document was found after the discovery of the Consulting Association blacklist was exposed in March 2009.
Lord Justice Supperstone commented “If the firms were professional enough to cover up their actions, did they also cover up more internal databases?”

Edmund Nourse QC representing the McFarlanes defendants said that “no impropriety whatsoever” could be implied over the destruction of the documents, which were merely “unfortunate mistakes”.

Dinah Rose described the McFarlanes position on non disclosure and destruction of evidence as “bonkers” and described an expert witness statement provided by the firms as “disgraceful and intended to mislead”.

Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support Group commented afterwards:

“All of the platitudes and half apologies, all their crocodile tears and claims of rogue managers from the companies over the past six or seven years are clearly nonsense. Documents have been destroyed and Directors of multinational companies are hiding stuff on their laptops. It calls into question all of the promises made to Parliament and the High Court. I am not a lawyer but I would have thought that destroying evidence that would almost certainly have been used in a court case might be considered perverting the course of justice.

The lawyers seemed particularly keen to keep any evidence about Cullum McAlpine being disclosed -  this wretch set up and was the funding chairman of the Consulting association. He was intimately involved in its operation over many years. What could he possibly have to hide?”

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