The prime minister has said the police should investigate police complicity in the blacklisting of trade union and safety activists. The response came in parliament this week after two Labour MPs had called separately for a public inquiry into revelations from the Information Commissioner’s Office that information held by covert blacklisting outfit The Consulting Association could only have been provided by the police or security services.
Michael Meacher has written to home secretary Theresa May demanding a public inquiry into the construction blacklisting scandal. Trade website Construction Enquirer reports that the former Labour cabinet minister tabled a question in parliament last week “to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will set up a public inquiry into recent allegations that (a) the police and (b) the security services supplied information to the Consulting Association leading to the blacklisting of up to 3,200 building workers.”
The call follows revelations during a recent employment tribunal pursued by blacklisted worker Dave Smith. The MP also asked “if she will refer to the Director of Public Prosecutions for investigation and possible prosecution the 44 construction firms listed on the Consulting Association database as having used the services of that organisation to blacklist up to 3,200 building workers.”
Michael Meacher is the second Labour MP, after John McDonnell, to call for a full public inquiry. A 21 March question in the House of Commons from McDonnell on the topic received a response from the prime minister.
The Labour MP said: “When 3,000 people, mostly celebrities, had their telephones hacked, the government set up an inquiry under Leveson. When 3,200 trade unionists have been blacklisted, and many have lost their livelihoods, the Home Secretary simply suggests that they go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Why is there one route to justice for celebrities, and another for working people?”
David Cameron responded: “There is one law that has to cover everybody in this land, and if there is any accusation of wrongdoing, that is something that the police, who are completely independent of the government, can investigate. That is what should happen.”
It is not that the prime minister is unconcerned about workplace health and safety. With the economy going down the pan, Cameron has designated health and safety his whipping boy. In a 5 January speech to “small businesses and entrepreneurs” he described it as ‘monster’ he intends to ‘kill off’. Hazards magazine reported this “topped off a display of ministerial bloodlust that had continued seamlessly from late 2011, with no opportunity to foam dyspeptically about the menace of safety passed over.
“As well as the prime minister, his deputy Nick Clegg, the Chancellor George Osborne and business secretary Vince Cable all joined the parade of very mad men.” George Osborne returned to the theme in his 21 March budget statement. Deregulation of health and safety got top billing in his announcement of “supply-side reform of the economy.”