Ethical Consumer blacklisted!
Organisation was the target of anti-activist espionage
The now defunct Caprim organisation sold information on Ethical Consumer magazine and its campaigners to companies who regarded the organisation as a threat.
The evidence came to light last week when the former Economic League adviser and owner of Caprim gave evidence to a group of MPs regarding the blacklisting scandal which saw hundreds of skilled labourers denied jobs in the building trade due to there political beliefs or union activity.
In verbal evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee Jack Winder, a founder of Caprim, told MPs that Ethical Consumer was one of the organisations that he targeted on behalf of corporate clients.
The magazine was highlighted along with a number of other organisations that Mr Winder considers "subversive" including the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Reclaim the Streets.
He said Caprim was set up to explain to companies "what was happening in the world of subversion" and to warn "companies about threats."
He said that Ethical Consumer was part of a wider movement that had come about after legislation introduced by consecutive Thatcher governments had limited the opportunity for political action within industry.
He said that activists had started to work in new ways including "the whole ethical industry" which "advised investors on whether they should invest in a company [or] how you should vote at the shareholders meetings"
He said Ethical Consumer was an organisation that would say "don't buy this as its made by part of a conglomerate which is involved with arms trade and the military".
Rob Harrison editor and founder of Ethical Consumer said "We watch corporations on behalf of consumers. I suppose it is only fair that civil society groups are watched on behalf of companies. In many ways it is useful for us if companies' attention is brought to what we are saying, so Caprim probably helped us in a way. It is different though for activists and employees where this kind of monitoring can be insidious."
Winder, a member of the Conservative party, said "We would alert the company to things" and they would often pay Winder a retainer based on the information they had gathered. This information was obtained by attending campaign meetings and doing desk-based research.
He also told MP's that he spied on animal rights activists that where targeting the pharmaceutical industry and GM activists who were challenging the work of the agro-chemical industry along with campaigns against the city of London and multi-national corporations.