Ian Kerr, who operated a blacklist of construction workers, has been fined £5,000 at the behest of the Information Commissioner's Office.
Before being caught by the ICO in May, Kerr had operated the list since the 1970's, said an ICO statement on Thursday. Construction companies paid £3,000 per year to subscribe to the database, could add information to the system, and pay £2.20 for details held on individuals.
Kerr's company, The Consulting Association, raked in £478,937 between April 2006 and February 2009. Should Kerr be unable to pay the £5,000 fine, handed down at Knutsford Crown Court on Thursday, he will get a three month jail sentence. Kerr has also been ordered to pay £1,187.20 in costs.
Over 40 companies used the database in the time it was operational. These included Amec, Balfour Beatty, Costain, G Wimpey, John Mowlem, Laing O’Rourk, Lovell Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, and Skanska. A list of companies involved is on the ICO website.
Details used by these companies to vet workers without their knowledge included personal relationships, trades union activity, and employment history. The 3,213 workers involved were not aware their details were on the database, and so could not correct information.
The Information Commissioner will serve enforcement notices on 17 of the firms, the ICO said in the statement.
In March the ICO set up a helpline for people who think they may have been on the database.