Witness dies during union ‘blacklist’ inquiry


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The Independent Online

The key witness in a Parliamentary investigation into a trade union “blacklist” used by building firms has passed away, raising fears that he has taken secrets to the grave.

Ian Kerr appeared before the Scottish Affairs Select Committee last month to talk about his role running The Consulting Association – a secret vetting operation funded by the construction industry. It was the first time Kerr had appeared in public since he was fined for breaching data protection laws and the first time he had spoken about the blacklisting operation.

He is understood to have died on Tuesday, barely a fortnight later.

During nearly four hours of evidence Mr Kerr revealed that he held thousands of names of mostly union members which were used to vet potential employees on projects ranging from the Millennium Dome to the Olympics. Mr Kerr told MPs he would provide written evidence later of further people with whom he liaised at construction firms which used the services of the association.

However, there was no further correspondence between Mr Kerr and the committee before his death. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

Justin Bowden, GMB union national officer, said: “The regrettable death of Ian Kerr means that he will take some secrets to the grave. It is time for the people who know about blacklisting to come out of the shadows, like Ian Kerr did, and tell the truth.”