Last Thursday, Theresa May announced a public inquiry into undercover police
spying on peaceful protest campaigns and bereaved parents of murder
victims. This came on the same day as the publication of an important
new book called Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and
Union Activists, written by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain
and published by New Internationalist.
The book, exposing the illegal blacklisting scandal orchestrated by the largest transnational construction companies in Britain including McAlpine, Carillion, Costain, Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Kier, provides previously unseen documentary evidence about the role of
undercover police spying units in colluding with the blacklisting conspiracy.
Speaking of the book, co-author and Blacklisted worker Dave Smith said: ‘There are secret political police in the UK; they are called Special Branch, MI5, GCHQ, NETCU and SDS. These coercive arms of the state see their role as supporting big business against anyone who may threaten their profits. Trade unions and peaceful campaign groups are viewed as the enemy.
‘Undercover police infiltration of justice campaigns set up by bereaved relatives, anti-racist and environmental groups and trade unions is an affront to democracy - it is essential that this is part of the remit of the public inquiry announced by Theresa May. Blacklisted workers should be consulted before the inquiry starts.
‘Blacklisting is no longer an industrial relations issue: it is a conspiracy orchestrated by directors of multinational companies and the security services against trade unions. Blacklisting is not just in construction, it is endemic across UK industry from NHS whistleblowers, airlines, North Sea, retail and railways. We now know that the fire brigades’ union, UNISON, CWU and NUT were also targets of this national scandal. The full extent of the corporate and police spying against trade unions demands that blacklisting is given a full standalone public inquiry of its own.’
A statement from Peter Francis former SDS undercover police spy and now police whistleblower was read out. In it he said: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to unreservedly apologize 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), Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), UNISON and the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU).
‘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.
‘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 regrettably, played a part in this.’
At last weeks’s launch John McDonnell MP highlighted the ‘heroic campaign’ undertaken by all those involved with the book, stating that Blacklisted will help ‘right some of the wrongs’ individuals fighting for justice have faced for many years. He also highlighted the important role New Internationalist had played in bringing the book to publication, citing the reluctance of other publishers approached to take on the project for fear of legal action.
Journalist and co-author Phil Chamberlain said: ‘They tried to tell us that blacklisting didn’t happen. They said there was no evidence. They said nothing could be changed. Drawing upon years of research and hundreds of interviews we demonstrate a failure at every turn by the state to act upon this scandal. And the reason is not incompetence but collusion. But we also show how an alliance of those affected brought this scandal out of the shadows. A full public inquiry is needed to ensure that justice is done.’
Dave Smith concluded: ‘Blacklisted is very much a team effort. It is the fruit of a campaign for justice involving investigative journalists, unions, politicians, lawyers and activists, but above all blacklisted workers themselves. Blacklisted is not just a book, it is a political hand grenade that will blow the scandal wide open. It is part of the ongoing fight for justice.’
To interview the authors, receive a review copy of Blacklisted, or for more information, please contact:
The Oxford Publicity Partnership Ltd
2 Lucas Bridge Business Park
Old Greens Norton Road
Towcester, NN12 8AX, UK
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44(0)1327 357770