Builders’ costs to be paid as firms admit emails can be found
BLACKLISTER construction giants are being forced to spend potentially millions of pounds raking through back-up tapes of destroyed documents.
Firms known to have blacklisted at least 3,213 workers via the secretive Consulting Association have been castigated by lawyers for the builders suing them for destroying crucial evidence.
Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith told the Star that this had worrying implications for the scale of the blacklisting operation.
“All of the platitudes and half apologies from the companies over the past six or seven years, and all of their crocodile tears, [claims of] rogue managers are clearly nonsense,” he scoffed.
“People at the highest levels are hiding stuff on their laptops. It calls into question all of the promises made to Parliament and the High Court.”
The court heard that the PC and laptop of one Balfour Beatty manager were wiped in April 2013 — though initial searches found that an internal Balfour Beatty blacklist was stored on another executive’s laptop.
Mr Smith said the firms’ lawyers “conceded everything” yesterday after initially claiming that searching through the back-up tapes of wiped computers would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming.
They will now be “forced to go and do this search for all the documentation and the emails,” he added.
A High Court judge also ordered the firms to pay the builders’ pre-hearing costs. It is thought this will cost an additional £100,000.
In the past few weeks general union Unite has provided legal resources so that blacklisted workers can continue to fight the case rather than accept settlements from the companies.
The blacklisting scandal hit the spotlight in 2009 when the Consulting Association’s offices were raided by the Information Commissioner.
Some workers were even targeted because they were readers of the Morning Star.
Another pre-hearing is set to take place on February 1 before the case is due to come to a full trial in May.
The spotlight is now on Sir Robert McAlpine director Cullum McAlpine, who served as founding chair of the Consulting Association.
No emails from Mr McAlpine or his personal assistant have been disclosed and they were reportedly also wiped.