Private detective Ian Kerr pleaded guilty to contravening the Data Protection Act but failed to appear at today's hearing

Ian Kerr, the private detective who operated a blacklist of construction workers used by construction companies to vet staff, will face trial and the possibility of an unlimited fine in the Crown Court.

Kerr pleaded guilty to contravening the Data Protection Act but failed to attend a hearing at Macclesfield Magistrates Court earlier today.

Magistrates decided against sentencing him insisting that the maximum fine of £5,000 they could impose was “wholly inadequate” and passed the case to the Crown Court.

Kerr, who operated the database through his company the Consulting Association, now faces an unlimited fine in the higher court.

Earlier this month the Information Commissioner’s Office warned it had not ruled out prosecuting construction firms who bought information about workers from Kerr’s database.

Companies that paid to use Kerr’s database include Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine, Costain, Laing O'Rourke and Skanska.

Kerr is charged with failing to notify the Information Commissioner that he was controlling a database containing personal information about individuals.

The database, which was used by around 40 construction companies, was sold on a subscription basis for an annual fee of £3,000. Data on each individual worker cost firms an additional £2.20.

The ICO raided Kerr’s Droitwich offices in February and seized invoices for up to £7,500 from major construction firms.

Kerr’s database was found to have details of 3,231 construction workers, mostly electricians, although it has since emerged that much of the information about individuals was inaccurate.

The raid on Kerr’s offices followed an earlier raid on an M&E contractor.

Since the ICO raid the Consulting Association, has ceased trading.