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Mon January 24 2022

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Sorry blacklisting bosses seek forgiveness from MPs

17 Jul 14 Senior directors of Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Vinci yesterday repented for their sins in front of a committee of MPs and sought forgiveness.

Nick Pollard, Andrew Ridley-Barker and Callum Tuckett face the MPs
Nick Pollard, Andrew Ridley-Barker and Callum Tuckett face the MPs

They didn't get much.

As part of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee’s long-running investigation into the construction industry blacklisting scandal, the three bosses once again admitted the culpability of their companies and acknowledged that their supporting of the Consulting Association had been wrong.

Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK chief executive Nick Pollard, Laing O’Rourke group finance and commercial director Callum Tuckett and Vinci Construction UK managing director Andrew Ridley-Barker gave evidence to the committee. They admitted their companies used the blacklisting service up until the Consulting Association was raided and shut down by the Information Commissioner's Office in 2009. "We should never have done it," said Mr Ridley-Barker.

They were accompanied by legal advisor Richard Slaven, a partner at Pinsent Masons, and crisis management consultant Richard Jukes of Grayling, both of whom are retained by The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme, set up by the guilty contractors to pay off the workers whose lives they may have ruined.

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The construction bosses and their advisers were given a rough ride by MPs who gave every indication of being on the side of the victims on this one. Committee chair Ian Davidson dismissed their compensation scheme as “damage limitation” rather than a real demonstration of repentance.

Mr Davidson rejected the claims of the contractors that they were being proactive in putting things right. He said they were merely reactive. He said that all the evidence  contractors would have continued blacklisting had they not been caught and only set up the compensation scheme once they had been hauled over the coals and told to do so by his committee.

Richard Jukes and Grayling were accused by MPs of 'misrepresenting the compensation scheme' in publicity information they had put out to the media, claiming union support that they did not, and do not, have. It is, in fact, a unilateral scheme.

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