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Balfour Beatty and Kier breached data protection act, says watchdog

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served Enforcement Notices on 14 construction firms following breaches of the Data Protection Act, including Balfour Beatty and Kier.

Some organisations paid thousands of pounds to unfairly obtain personal information about construction workers.

The firms are:

  • Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited;
  • Balfour Beatty Construction Northern Limited;
  • Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish & Southern Limited;
  • Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (HY) Limited;
  • Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited;
  • Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services limited;
  • CB&I UK Limited;
  • Emcor Engineering Services Limited;
  • Emcor Rail Limited;
  • Kier Limited;
  • NG Bailey Limited;
  • Shepherd Engineering Services Limited;
  • SIAS Building Services Limited;
  • Whessoe Oil & Gas Limited.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith said: “Fourteen firms paid for personal details about construction workers without those people knowing. The individuals were denied the opportunity of explaining or correcting what may have been inaccurate personal information about them and which could have jeopardised their employment prospects in the construction industry.

“We have used the maximum powers available to us and this enforcement action sends a strong signal that organisations must take the Data Protection Act seriously. Should the firms fail to adhere to the terms of the Notices they could face prosecution,” he said.

The enforcement action prevents the companies from using the personal data supplied to them by Ian Kerr, formerly of The Consulting Association (TCA). The firms will also need to ensure that if they obtain personal information about job applicants from third parties in the future they are completely open with those
applicants about the process. It is a breach of the Data Protection Act to use personal data covertly to vet workers for employment.

An ICO investigation found that Ian Kerr of Droitwich, on behalf of the TCA, held details on 3,213 construction workers and traded their personal details for profit. At Kerr’s business premises the ICO seized copies of invoices to construction companies for services, including employment checks on individuals. On 16 July 2009 Ian Kerr was fined £5,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act and ordered to pay £1,187.20 costs.

Readers' comments (2)

  • So this equates to a fine of almost £1.56 per infringement. Not much of a dis-incentive to break the law!

    "Some organisations paid thousands of pounds to unfairly obtain personal information about construction workers."

    Does the Enforcement notice come with a fine or is this purely a rap on the knuckles?

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  • Echoes of the National Economic League ...... or have I mis-remembered the name of that 70s-80s organisation?

    Chris Johnson

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