Database blacklist saw thousands denied jobs

Thousands of workers in the construction industry were denied employment because of a secret "blacklist", a court heard today.

Ian Kerr built up a database of 3,213 people which included highly sensitive and personal information as well as trade union links and employment history, Cheshire magistrates were told.



He then offered the information to construction firms to vet potential employees.



Kerr's organisation, the Consulting Association, in Droitwich, West Midlands, was raided by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last March and he was charged with a breach of the Data Protection Act.



Kerr, 66, of Avoncroft Road, Stoke Heath, Worcestershire, did not attend Macclesfield Magistrates' Court today but entered a guilty plea through his solicitor.



Amina Khan, prosecuting for the ICO, told the court Kerr charged firms an annual fee of £3,000 to subscribe to the service and £2.20 to access the details of named individuals.



She said: "He collated and provided information to construction companies in relation to individuals that were working for them or seeking employment."



The ICO says it believes Kerr ran the blacklist for up to 15 years.



It has named around 40 companies which were subscribers to the database, including Amec Construction, Balfour Beatty and Morgan Est.



James Strong, defending, said Kerr was just a salaried employee of the organisation, which he described as a trade association.



Since the ICO raid the Consulting Association was ordered to cease operations and Kerr has lost his £48,000-a-year job, Mr Strong said.



Adrian Long, chairman of the magistrates, said it was unclear who profited from the Consulting Association's activities and adjourned the case for the ICO to undertake further investigations.



He said: "We need to know the nature of this organisation and exactly what sums of money were involved.



"Was (Kerr) simply an employee and others were financing the organisation and taking the money?"



Mr Long ordered the ICO to establish the "structure, ownership and finances" of the Consulting Association.



Outside court, electrician Steve Acheson, 55, from Denton, Manchester, said he had been denied work for four out of the last six years because of Kerr's blacklist.



He said: "I was unfairly dismissed in 2000 and later won an industrial tribunal against that company.



"Because of that information being on Kerr's blacklist, few companies would employ me.



"To be out of work for such a long time, it affected my health and my family.



"My life was devastated. I couldn't understand why nobody would employ me.



"There was no recession then. I am a highly qualified and experienced electrician and I work hard.



"But nobody would take me on because of this blacklist.



"It makes me very angry that for many years Kerr was earning a living denying others the right to do the same."



Mick Gorrell, Assistant Information Commissioner, said he was pleased with Kerr's guilty plea and pledged enforcement action against the companies who subscribed to the blacklist.



He said: "This was a flagrant abuse of people's rights.



"It was a covert database which meant that those who featured in it were unaware of its existence and unable to view or challenge the content, its accuracy or fairness.



"Many people will have been left without a job and with no idea why.



"We will be looking at the companies which subscribed to the database and consider sending enforcement notices."

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal