Police Spied On Unions

GMB is calling on the Appeal Court judge, Lord Justice Pitchford, appointed yesterday 12th March by Home Secretary Theresa May to head an inquiry into undercover policing, to investigate the new statement by Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer, that he spied on NUS, NUT, Unison, CWU, UCATT and FBU members as part of his job. This information is contained in a statement by Peter Francis read out at the launch of a new book “Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists” on Thursday evening 12th March in Committee Room 15 - Houses of Parliament, Westminster. London. See text of statement below.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized The Consulting Association (TCA) database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists. The statement is as follows:

Statement from Peter Francis March 12.

“I am humbled as well as honoured to be offered to speak tonight at such an important book launch here at the prestigious House of Commons.

However, I cannot appear here for a number of reasons, including and primarily, because of some very serious outstanding legal issues/difficulties with the Metropolitan Police, that continue to hang over me ever since I became a whistleblower and therefore a potential criminal in their eyes.

I have received clear legal advice that me, even speaking here today, is likely to be considered a breach of the Official Secrets Act because I have not been granted permission from the Metropolitan Police or Home Secretary to speak to you.

This remarkable, well-researched and must- read book clearly shows how police spying on political activists has destroyed lives and that I, most unfortunately and regrettable, played a part in this.

The forthcoming Home Secretary’s public inquiry into undercover policing must include a forensic, independent (in other words, non-police) examination into all the blacklisting files compiled by the Consulting Association and then cross-reference them with corresponding Special Branch individual activists’ records to look at the areas of collusion.

There will be multiple duplicates. Of that I have no doubt at all.

In relation to Mark JENNER aka Mark CASSIDY, exposed last week in the media as being a UCATT member.

An anonymous and unaccountable Scotland Yard spokesperson has obviously re-quoted their usual attempted ‘Get out of Jail Free card’ response by saying “We neither confirm nor deny the identity of any individual alleged to have been in a covert role. We are not prepared to confirm or deny the deployment of individuals on specific operations.”

But tonight, here in this supposed home of UK democracy, please let me state very clearly that Mark JENNER was 100% one of my fellow undercover SDS Police Officers deployed alongside me in the 1990s.

Jenner, who has now been very publicly exposed, should be forced to appear in person at the public inquiry to account for his spying on, amongst numerous other political protesters, the totally law-abiding construction union UCATT members whose only ‘crimes’ were being union members.

I would also like take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise to all the union members I personally spied upon and reported back on whilst deployed undercover in the SDS.

Including those not only engaged in working in the construction industry but also those in the National Union of Students (NUS), National Union of Teachers (NUT), Communications Workers Union (CWU), UNISON and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

As everything I have previously stated, I am prepared to repeat all of this under oath at the public inquiry and should UCATT or any other union or the blacklisted campaigners wish me to, in any court cases they might bring against the relevant UK authorities.

Yours in solidarity/ Because at this precise moment in time, before the public inquiry, there is “No Justice there is Just US”.

Peter FRANCIS former SDS undercover Police Spy and now Police Whistleblower”

Following on from the launch, GMB held a protest demonstration in Derby on Friday 13th March to shame Ron Barron of CB&I (Chicago Bridge & Iron), named for his part in blacklisting at least 43 construction workers. 16 of the workers blacklisted are from Derbyshire. Ron Barron was the Human Resources Manager when working at CB&I. CB&I were a relative newcomer to The Consulting Association (TCA) having started to subscribe to the organisation in 2006.  CB&I have 48 mentions in the blacklist files. On 43 occasions the initials RB (Ron Barron) are written next to information submitted to The Consulting Association by CB&I. He attended one of the secretive security group Woodstock meetings in November 2007.

This was the fifth date in the second leg of a national “Crocodile Tears” protest tour to shame 63 construction industry managers named as blacklisters who have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions. The second leg of the tour visits Bristol, Plymouth, Epsom, Cambridge, Derby and Bridgend.

There was hearing in the High Court in London on 13th February 2015 seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers. The claims were served on 27th November 2013. GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court Hearing in July 2014. Talks between GMB and lawyers representing construction employers (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC)  on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June 2014 over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers. Employers have unilaterally launched a cut price scheme GMB estimates will cost less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms.

So far 1,724 out of the 3,213 on the list know they are on blacklist. 467 were identified by themselves on by their unions. 570 cases are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO contacted direct a further 1,257 and of these 776 has now been sent a copy of their files.  That leaves 1,489 still to trace.

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer, said “The decision by Peter Francis to blow the whistle on undercover police spying on five further unions is to be congratulated.  Until all the information about the undercover spying activities of the police is fully in the public domain, and the police held to account for their activities, trust cannot even begin to be restored. The latest revelations from Peter Francis highlight exactly why it is essential that Lord Justice Pitchford’s inquiry into undercover policing and the operation of the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), must also include blacklisting.”

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