Home Office in climbdown over ‘illegal workers’ swoop on south Derry firm

FP McCann issued with a “No Action Notice” from immigration inforcement after dawn raids

South Derry construction firm FP McCann has been awarded £3.39m for energy efficiency improvements of its crushing and concrete manufacturing process at its quarry in Kilrea
No action is to be taken against FP McCann following a swoop by the Home Office in March in which it claimed the south Derry construction firm was employing illegal workers

The Home Office in London has confirmed that no further action is to be taken against south Derry construction giant FP McCann amid claims it was employing illegal workers.

Immigration officers swooped in a 5am dawn raid on a building site at Deeside mill in north Wales in late March and arrested 12 men and a woman who were working as subcontracted labourers and steel-fixers.

The Home Office initially indicated that FP McCann and Stockport-based Adana Construction would be facing fines of up to £225,000 and £180,000 respectively under tougher new civil penalties.

It then issued a strongly-worded press release, effectively convicting the two firms, before several days later, in an apparent climbdown, it contacted media outlets to tone down the wording of its original statement.

It now appears that the Home Office was premature in its announcement, because it has emerged that FP McCann, a major pre-cast concrete materials supplier and contractor to the UK construction sector, had all the appropriate paperwork on site.

And it has now been confirmed that the Knockloughrim-headquartered family firm was issued on Thursday with a “No Action Notice” from Immigration Enforcement, part of the Home Office, confirming that it is not liable for any civil penalty under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.

The Home Office says that following a detailed inquiry into a number of workers on site, it has been quickly established that all FP McCann employees were suitably qualified to work in the UK.

A spokesman for FP McCann told the Irish News: “Since having that early and erroneous press coverage corrected we, along with our legal representatives at Carson McDowell, have been working closely with the Home Office to get them to address the damage that has been caused.

“We have also worked closely with the Home Office enforcement team, providing the information that was available to their officers on the particular site visit and also more broadly available to satisfy them of the very comprehensive anti-slavery position adopted by the company both in relation to its direct employees and also articulating that to the subcontract network.

“FP McCann are now content with the matter being closed with no enforcement action being taken.

“We would also like to acknowledge the swift and immediate investigative action undertaken by the Home Office and the validation of our strict illegal immigration policies and procedures, resulting in the subsequent and prompt closure of the case by immigration enforcement.”

Its exoneration comes as FP McCann has just filed record-breaking trading results, underlining its position as the biggest pre-cast concrete manufacturer in the UK.

The group - which has six members of the McCann family listed as directors - saw revenues rise by around 9% to £415.8 million, the bulk of which (£356m) is derived through the manufacture of construction products.

On a bottom-line basis, the company - which operates a dozen quarries, surfacing, readymix and pre-cast plants - reported a retained profit of £40.8 million.

It has 1,651 employees on its books, making it one of the region’s largest manufacturing businesses. Its annual wages bill came in at £74.4m.

As well as local bases in Knockloughrim, Lisnaskea and Armagh, it operates other modern manufacturing plants in Alnwick (Northumberland), Byley (Cheshire), Cadeby (Warwickshire), Ellistown (Leicestershire), Grantham (Lincolnshire), Littleport (Cambridgeshire), Lydney (Gloucestershire), Uddingston (Scotland), and Weston Underwood (Derbyshire).

The company says: “We have a long history of meeting customers’ needs. Our product range has never been more diverse, more competitive, or more in-tune with our clients’ needs than it is today.

“The quality and reliability of our products and services are the foundation of our success, and we are constantly developing and improving our solutions whilst striving to exceed customer expectations.”