NUJ against blacklisting

Are you on a ‘domestic extremists’ database?

Police intelligence report copy; Metropolitan Police

A Metropolitan Police intelligence report showing data gathered on the author during a stop and search while covering a demo (with a Press Card) at an arms fair

THE NUJ is playing its part in the Trades Union Congress's (TUC's) anti-blacklisting campaign, which is calling for a full public inquiry into the practice.

A raid by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in 2009 revealed a blacklist held by the Consulting Association of many people working in the construction industry - including those known to be active members of a trade union, or even workers who had raised health and safety concerns. But some members of the NUJ have also found their names on that blacklist, including journalist Mark Thomas.

Mark also found, through a Data Protection Act request that he appeared on a Metropolitan Police database of "domestic extremists" (a term that's - probably deliberately - never been properly defined.) His "domestic extremism" file contained over 80 intelligence reports including public lectures he'd given, events he's attended, even petitions he'd supported. Some of the data was inaccurate - it listed demos Mark hadn't been on. (See Mark's article on this here.)

With NUJ support, Mark is taking legal action to have his "domestic extremism" data deleted as "disproportionate," and he is encouraging NUJ members to use the Data Protection Act to uncover any "domestic extremism" files held on them by police forces, and to have them deleted. (His appeal, above, has a link to the ICO showing how to do it.)

I would join Mark in urging NUJ members who cover protests to request data that the police may hold on them. My own name appeared on database of "domestic extremists" held by the National Coordinator Domestic Extremism database, now a unit of the Metropolitan Police, although the Met have assured me that this data, including a record of a demo in Crawley I never attended, and a photo of my cycling past the venue for the G20 meeting in London in April 2009, has since been deleted after I questioned it.

A Data Protection Act request also revealed a Metropolitan Police Forward Intelligence Team's "intelligence report" of a stop and search on me while covering the Dsei Arms Fair protests in 2007. The report includes the membership number on my NUJ Press Card and even the identifying PIN that goes with my Press Card (redacted from the extract from the Met's disclosure above, "IC1" indicates a "white, British" ethnicity.) The Met's default policy is to delete such data after seven years, so it may have since been removed from their CO11 "public order" database on which it was held.

Last modified: 03 Dec 2013 - © 2013 contributors
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