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Blacklisting, protest, 'domestic extremism' and the London Olympics

Finally the Metropolitan Police have come clean and admitted their role in the blacklisting of construction workers. While a number of companies had already owned up to their involvement with The Consulting Association, which kept a list of union members for the purposes of preventing them getting work on construction sites, even paying compensation to over 700 blacklisted workers, the police had refused to acknowledge their role in passing on information about union members to companies and The Consulting Association.

The existence of the blacklist, which included the names of over 3,500 workers, was revealed in a raid carried out by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which discovered the details of these workers in an investigation in 2009, although allegations of blacklisting had been made for decades. Workers and lawyers had been convinced blacklisting was an established practice back in the 1960s. The breakthrough came at an employment tribunal in 2008 when Alan Wainwright, a former manager in the construction industry, gave evidence that blacklisting was a widespread practice. The difficulty of proving blacklisting was suddenly overcome leading to the raid on The Consulting Association.

The arrival of the Olympics provided a considerable impetus to the already existing campaign against blacklisting. As the highest profile construction site in the country the Olympic Park attracted attention like no other. In 2009 the Olympics became a focus for protests after it was found in the raid on The Consulting Association that one of the key contractors on the Olympic site, Laing O’Rourke, had been involved with the blacklisting group. Then when, in February 2011, Frank Morris, who was working as an electrician at the Media Centre, was sacked by a sub-contractor after he defended a whistleblower, who had already been fired, there were renewed protests and demands for action and investigation. This led to further revelations about the contacts between Olympics contractors like Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska and The Consulting Association. Despite the knowledge that these Olympics contractors had been named in documents found by the Information Commissioner the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) failed to take any action apart from asking contractors if they were involved in blacklisting. Unsurprisingly the contractors denied any involvement.

However, given its place in the public eye, the ODA did not escape so easily. The House of Commons Select Committee on Scottish Affairs started an investigation and in 2013 the ODA was lambasted for its failure to respond to evidence that blacklisting was happening on the Olympic Park. The Chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee declared the 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent' after hearing evidence which contradicted the declarations of the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, who had told the Committee: “The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise."

Despite the steady drip of revelations and investigations it took the Met until February 2013 launch its own ‘investigation’ into police involvement. The interesting question is why the police even needed to have an investigation. They should have known what their own officers were up to. The man who ran The Consulting Associations, Ian Kerr, had himself been a Special Branch police officer, and the Met would have known it was this section of the police which was most likely to have been involved in this kind of dirty operation. As a former Special Branch officer he would have retained valuable contacts in the force.

The Met’s shyness at looking into its own activities was followed by a reluctance to release the report which took an astonishing three years to complete. Then instead of releasing the results of this investigation which, it is now revealed, found the allegations ‘proven’, the report was sent to the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Hogan-Howe, precisely because of its sensitivity. Hogan-Howe, true to form, then failed to pass on the result. The police sat on the report for a further two years all of which demonstrates that the process always had more to do with concealment and evasion than with taking action. Even then the police failed to say anything of substance about what they had found. Indeed the Met’s statement was bland beyond belief:

"The report concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation that the police or Special Branches supplied information is 'proven'. Material revealed a potentially improper flow of information from Special Branch to external organisations, which ultimately appeared on the blacklist."


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Mega Sporting Events, Politics & Security in Brazil & Scotland in 2014

Policing of World Cup 2014 protest in Brazil: photo: mediaNINJAphoto: MídiaNINJA

by Janine Ewen, originally published on June 25, 2014 in RioOnWatch.

The World Cup in Brazil has brought unprecedented criticism of the ways in which sporting mega-events are organized and scrutiny over who actually benefits. Though distinct in context and scale, the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2014 to be hosted in Scotland draws a comparison with the World Cup in Brazil and the way such events are politically charged. The Commonwealth Games 2014 (G2014), to be hosted by the city of Glasgow in Scotland has been described by Shona Robison, Scotland’s Minister for Sport and Equality, as having the “core value of equality, aiming to engage individuals from all backgrounds.” The event will begin on July 23, just ten days after the World Cup final in Brazil. Just a few days before the World Cup kicked off in São Paulo last week, President Dilma Rousseff hosted an exclusive dinner for journalists and other critics of the World Cup to promote the investment on infrastructure projects in Brazil and to dissolve uncertainty of FIFA’s presence in the twelve host cities. Despite the show of confidence, protests and intense international media coverage over the last year have exposed Brazil’s inequalities, corruption, misplaced public priorities and human rights violations to the world. Commonwealth Games host city Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and third largest city in the UK, is also widely known for its political and social problems, with high crime, poverty, mortality, unemployment and overall deprivation rates. It was recently announced the UK’s sickest city. With evident social problems and increasing emphasis on the “legacy” as a justifying tool for mega-events, there is pressure for both Brazil and Scotland to achieve a sustainable legacy, but host “goals” extend beyond successfully realizing the events and legacy plans.


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Charges dropped against Games Monitor whistle blower

Before the London Olympics documents allegedly leaked, hacked, obtained from private "intelligence" company Stratfor showed that Games Monitor had attracted the interests of this intelligence gathering outfit, whose client list includes Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical. Having read Stratfor's intelligence report on Games Monitor and Julian Cheyne I would urge clients of Stratfor to think again before renewing contracts as the information in their report on Games Monitor and Julian Cheyne was inaccurate. The article below is from Democracy Now.


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How they kept the stadium's lights burning

After all those grubby little stories about GCHQ tying in with the US Prism surveillance programme and spying on diplomats at the 2009 G20 meetings finally something to vindicate Britain's spooks! Out rushed lurid headlines about how the gallant spies spiked the 'cyber-attack' threat to London's Olympic ceremony. This appalling conspiracy was apparently aimed at turning off the lights in the Olympic stadium!


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Back to the future? Urban transformation and public protest in Rio de Janeiro

by Matthew Richmond

Protests against World Cup in Rio: Protesters display a banner of Mayor Eduardo Paes and State Governor Sergio Cabral holding Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ statue hostage. The banner below reads “Who gives the order? Who gets the progress?”Protesters display a banner of Mayor Eduardo Paes and State Governor Sergio Cabral holding Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ statue hostage. The banner below reads “Who gives the order? Who gets the progress?”


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another Olympic inflation - terrorism arrests

Olympics inflation comes in all forms. The Home Office has released figures showing terrorism arrests rose by 60% in the year up to September 2012 by comparison with the previous year with a doubling of arrests in the period April - June almost doubling over the same period in 2011. Around 18% of the 245 arrested, 45, were charged with a terrorism-related offence of which 25 are still awaiting trial.


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Another Olympics Cycling Legacy - Critical Mass Convictions

Five of the 182 Critical Mass cyclists arrested for riding their bikes near the Olympic Park on the evening of the Opening Ceremony were finally convicted of breaching section 12 of the Public Order Act. Section 12 is intended "to prevent serious public disorder, serious criminal damage or serious disruption to the life of the community." In this instance, the police, taking extraordinary measures under the Olympic state of exception, set up road blocks on bridges to stop the cyclists crossing the Thames, an action which caused far more serious disruption than anything the cyclists were likely to achieve, even if this was their intention.


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Leyton Marsh: Malice and the prosecution of Mike Wells

Two weeks ago the trial began of nine members of Critical Mass, out of 182 originally arrested, for riding their bikes too close to the Olympic Park on the evening of the Opening Ceremony. Another malicious Olympics prosecution (see p 12), that of citizen journalist and photographer Mike Wells, finally came to an end almost two months ago on 17th January 2013. The story began with an unsubstantiated allegation that Mike assaulted the driver of an excavator at Sandy Lane, the unmade road that runs alongside Leyton Marshes, and ended nine months later at Stratford Magistrate’s Court. Mike’s prosecution occurred against a background of warnings from police and politicians that the authorities would take a hard line in the face of protest and disorder.


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