The late Brian Higgins was known as Britain’s most blacklisted worker.
See for example this Guardian obituary, which – deliberately so – explains very little. Brian seems like a worthy guy in it, whereas he was a fierce opponent of the capitalist system and a constant thorn in the side of those, who in all sorts of ways, make sure there is the constant, ongoing exploitation of working people across the globe. We have the quite sickening situation today where people who have written books and even made a film cannot bring themselves to take a real look at the many reasons why Brian was victimised.
Brian’s file at the Consulting Association was the largest of any building worker on their list. Included in the information was a booklet I helped to bring out through the Colin Roach Centre (CRC) titled Rank and File or Broad Left: democracy versus bureaucracy
This work was also cited in an attempt by UCATT official Dominic Hehir in his attempt to sue Brian for libel. This is the only known case of a union official attempting to sue an ordinary member of a union. The attempt ultimately failed. A support group was set up to back Brian and the secretary of this group was Mark Cassidy, a member of the Colin Roach Centre, who was later found out to be Mark Jenner, a police spy. Jenner subsequently provided information on Brian and a number of other building workers to the Consulting Association.
Part of this Big Issue North article states:-
When UCATT officer Dominic Hehir sued BWG and union member Brian Higgins for libel over allegations he was failing to support members, a defence campaign was established – and Jenner became the chair. Although the campaign was successful the time taken up on Higgins’ defence meant there was little in reserve to picket sites. Those involved felt it was a hollow victory. Higgins, a blacklisted building worker, says: “I am appalled to discover ‘Mark Cassidy’ was actually an undercover police officer who used his cover as a building worker to infiltrate organisations the state does not like. It is like some Orwellian nightmare and it is surely time for decency, justice and democracy for blacklisted workers.”
Further reading: Undercover but within sites
Below are links to some of the documents in this case and about which I shall be writing more in the future. Note to book publishers – please get in touch if interested
- Rank and File or Broad Left book
- Article by Brian in the CRC magazine : Number 1 titled Death on the site
- Article by Brian on the libel action in the CRC magazine : Number 2
- Article by Brian in the CRC magazine : Number 3
See also the self published pamphlet by Des Warren – Shrewsbury: whose conspiracy? The need for an inquiry – on events during the 1972 Building Workers’ strike and which saw him later sent to prison along with Ricky Tomlinson.
You can also read the following documents:-
Victory – the letter by Louise Christian, civil rights solicitor (sorry hypocrite) on Hehir’s humiliating climbdown. Not one word that they lost, they proved now’t and couldn’t even be brave enough to admit it. Still, it did mean the original objective of Brian and others like myself of stopping sites when deaths occurred was lost – as time was otherwise spent on this legal attack by Hehir, who we still don’t know funded his actions.