Construction workers gear up for High Court ‘blacklist’ trial
8 February 2016
Hundreds of people involved in construction industry work are gearing up for a High Court trial after claiming they were unfairly vetted and placed on a blacklist because of employers' concerns about political or trade union activity.
A judge is expected to analyse evidence at a trial in London this summer – following preliminary hearings.
More than 300 people are making damages claims, according to a group set up to offer support to workers who say they were wrongly treated.
Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said more than 600 had initially made claims, but hundreds have agreed settlements.
He says current and former workers have made claims of wrongdoing over several decades.
Solicitor Michael Newman – who works at law firm Leigh Day – plus a number of barristers, including Dinah Rose QC and Guy Vassall-Adams, are part of a legal team representing workers.
Lawyers say claims are being made against a number of firms involved in the construction industry.
They have alleged that between 1969 and 2009 a group of major construction companies combined to operate a “secret scheme” for vetting people working or seeking work in the construction industry.
And judges have been told that workers’ personal details were entered on a database often accompanied by comments about trade union and political activity.
At one preliminary hearing earlier this year, Ms Rose likened blacklisting activities to the hacking of telephones by tabloid journalists.
Mr Newman says a trial is due to start in May and last for several weeks.
Lawyers representing companies are expected to dispute allegations made at any trial.
Judges have heard that allegations about blacklisting emerged more than five years ago.
Late last year union Unite said more than 260 construction workers were on the verge of securing damages following an admission of guilt from construction companies in the wake of legal action.
Photo from David Davies / PA Wire