MPs to question Ardyne owners on blacklisting

A director of the firm which owns a former oil platform fabrication yard near Rothesay is to be quizzed by MPs as part of an inquiry into blacklisting in the construction industry.

Cullum McAlpine, a director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, owners of the Ardyne Point site, will give evidence to the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee on January 22.

The MPs’ questions will focus on evidence given by the late Ian Kerr, owner of The Consulting Association (TCA), which was raided by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009 following allegations of blacklisting.

Mr Kerr died in December, just weeks after giving his evidence to the committee.

A news release announcing Mr McAlpine’s forthcoming appearance stated: “The ICO found that the owner, Mr Ian Kerr, held details on 3,213 construction workers and traded their personal details for profit.

“Mr Kerr’s database was used by over 40 construction companies and included information about construction workers’ personal relationships, trade union activities and employment history.

“There is evidence to suggest that these files were used for vetting potential employees.

“Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd is one of the UK’s leading building and civil engineering firms. The late Ian Kerr, in his oral evidence to the Committee, made it clear that McAlpine as a firm and Mr McAlpine as an individual were intimately involved in the foundation of The Consulting Association (TCA) in 1993, and continued to play a substantial role in the operation of TCA until its closure in 2009.”

Ian Davidson, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, said: “On the evidence of Ian Kerr and others, Cullum McAlpine seems to have been the prime mover in establishing, running and then closing the Consulting Association.

“We very much look forward to hearing his side of the story.”

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd built three concrete gravity platforms for the North Sea oil industry at Ardyne Point, directly facing Rothesay Bay at the southern tip of the Cowal peninsula, between 1974 and 1978.

The company still owns the site and has made a number of applications over the years for planning permission to develop the land, most recently in 2007 for a marina, hotel, restaurant, shops, offices, ferry terminal and residential accommodation.

Renewed permission for that proposal was granted in July 2012, work not having begun in the five years since the project was originally approved.