27 June 2018
The GMB union has reported the Metropolitan Police to the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) after it ignored a Freedom of Information request.
In March, the Met admitted that its Special Branch officers had spied on trade union officials and supplied information to The Consulting Association – a blacklisting operation run jointly by 44 of the UK’s major construction firms, which blocked 3,213 workers from accessing employment in the industry.
On Monday, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme revealed that the Met knew exactly which of these workers had been surveilled by police and had been keeping this information secret for at least two years, since the completion of an internal inquiry into the matter.
GMB filed a request for the report that resulted from this inquiry, emails relating to the report, and details of meetings between officers and blacklisting organisations, on April 09 this year.
The Met had up until the end of May to fulfil this request but has so far failed to do so, leading to GMB’s decision to report them to the ICO.
“It is shameful that the Metropolitan Police are obstructing GMB’s quest for the truth,” GMB National Secretary, Justin Bowden, commented.
“It is bad enough the state spied on its own citizens engaged in lawful activities, but to seek to block those affected from a chance of closure compounds the crime against those they targeted.
“Those spied on have a right to know who, what, where, when and why information was shared between the police, and on whose orders it was carried out.
“Scotland Yard has a duty to hand over this information.”
Indeed, on Monday, Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan, who has a national responsibility for transparency and ethics in the police force, told the BBC that the way the Met has handled this situation rightly arouses suspicion. Scotland Yard should at least provide a reasonable justification for not releasing the details it has kept secret, she said, but warned that its current actions could be part of a “cover up” to protect those involved.