Secret letter reveals Consulting Association Kerr’s attempts to target NHS whistleblowers for list
THE shocking depth of the blacklisting scandal was laid bare by evidence revealed yesterday showing plans to target NHS workers.
A secret letter from Consulting Association boss Ian Kerr to representatives of known blacklisting companies including Carillion, Skanska and Kier was among new documents published by the Commons Scottish affairs committee.
“Every time we turn over a stone, we discover more evidence of the breadth and depth of the conspiracy to blacklist,” said committee chairman Ian Davidson MP.
Dated February 2005, the letter shows that the Consulting Association contacted firms involved in facilities management in the health service, such as catering and cleaning.
Mr Kerr wrote: “Following last year’s meeting to consider a facilities management meeting I am now able to offer the following dates for a further meeting to cover the healthcare sector. Please circle all dates convenient for you to attend a meeting.”
Former Carillion HR manager Liz Keates, who has been accused of blacklisting 139 construction workers, was one of eight addressed by the letter.
The shocking revelation raises the possibility that NHS whistleblowers were being targeted, with a recent inquiry revealing that thousands of health staff have been bullied and intimidated by managers for raising patient care concerns.
Mr Kerr’s letter has led to renewed calls by unions for a full public inquiry into the blacklisting, which has been promised by Labour if the party wins the general election.
“We know that construction workers and environmentalists were blacklisted,” said GMB national officer Justin Bowden.
“It is quite clear that Ian Kerr and the Consulting Association saw a role for their services in the NHS and questions should be asked whether Carillion and Liz Keates did so as well.
“The British public has the right to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the full extent of blacklisting. Only a full public inquiry will do this.”
The papers cast doubt on Carillion’s claims that it had no involvement with the Consulting Association from 2004 onwards, Mr Bowden added.
Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “The blacklisting of workers simply on the basis of their union activities is nothing short of scandalous.
“The idea that the shadowy individuals who compiled these immoral lists were also thinking about a move into health is very concerning.
“However we would hope that had healthcare bosses been approached by anyone proffering such low-down and dirty tactics, they would have given the blacklisters short shrift, given the strong history of partnership working in the NHS.”
Blacklisting first came to light in 2009 following a raid of the Consulting Association’s offices by the Information Commissioner’s Office, revealing a secret file containing the names of around 3,200 construction workers and environmental activists.
More than 40 building firms used the list to prevent “troublemakers” from being hired, even though their only “crime” was to raise health and safety concerns or to be involved in trade union activity.
Unions GMB, Ucatt and Unite are fighting for compensation for their members through the courts for loss of earnings.