Business Secretary seeks meeting with Information Commissioner to ensure ‘thorough’ investigation

Vince Cable

Source: Andrew Sales

Business secretary Vince Cable is seeking assurances that new allegations of blacklisting will be “investigated thoroughly”.

Following last week’s parliamentary debate, which approved a motion put forward on blacklisting by Labour counterpart Chuka Umunna, Cable condemned the practice but said there would be no major new investigation unless evidence is produced that the practice is ongoing.

However, the business secretary yesterday wrote to Information Commissioner Christopher Graham seeking a meeting on how any new evidence will be dealt with and how this will be co-ordinated with the ongoing inquiry by the Scottish Affairs select committee.

In the letter, seen by Building, Cable wrote: “Given your responsibilities as Information Commissioner, I would like to meet with you to discuss how best to handle any evidence of any ongoing blacklisting that might emerge, drawing on your experience of the original investigation into The Consulting Association.

“Some of the accusations of blacklisting raised in the House go well beyond the issue of blacklisting of trade union members for which I am responsible.

“But a common theme of the accusations was the misuse of personal information, and I would welcome your view on how these matters might best be taken forward, and how best to ensure that any investigations by different authorities are best coordinated.

“It is important that we are able to give confidence that such new evidence will be investigated thoroughly.”

The letter was copied in to defence secretary Philip Hammond, police minister Damian Green, Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith, transport minister Stephen Hammond, sports minister Hugh Robertson and Justice minister Lord McNally.

Umunna welcomed Cable’s latest move.

He said: “We will work alongside ministers to ensure blacklisting allegations are fully investigated and to examine what changes are needed to strengthen the law against blacklisting so that this scandal is never repeated again.

“I urge those with any new evidence of blacklisting, in particular occurring from 2009 onwards, to come forward with it to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, the Information Commissioner and the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.”