Construction union Ucatt has welcomed the decision to send a blacklister to crown court for sentencing, where he could face an unlimited fine.
In March, an Information Commissioner’s Office investigation revealed 40 construction firms had been buying confidential data on workers from a body called The Consulting Association (TCA) in secret, for the past 15 years.
Ian Kerr, who ran TCA, yesterday admitted charges of data protection offences as he was not registered to hold such information.
However, magistrates at Macclesfield Magistrates Court decided against sentencing Kerr, who had failed to attend the hearing, because they said the maximum fine of £5,000 they could levy was “wholly inadequate”.
The case has now been transferred to the Crown Court which has the power to impose an unlimited penalty.
UCATT general secretary Alan Ritchie described Kerr’s failure to attend as “gutless”. “The magistrates’ decision should be applauded,” he said. “Mr Kerr set out to ruin construction workers’ lives. He deserves the maximum possible sentence.”
Mick Gorrill, assistant information commissioner for the ICO said he was pleased the case had been referred to the Crown Court. “Ian Kerr colluded with construction firms for many years, flouting the Data Protection Act and ignoring thousands of people’s privacy rights. He added: “Holding personal information on individuals without their knowledge, in these circumstances, is a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity.”
Blacklisting is not currently illegal, but the government has pledged to resolve the matter this autumn.