Posts Tagged ‘Trafigura’
The BBC will probably clear down any criticism, no matter how mild, of Trafigura, so I think it is best to keep a copy of those Trafigura emails which indicate they knew what they were doing and why.
A copy of those emails is at the BBC.
More on journalism.co.uk too.
Trafigura are still at it.
Despite overwhelming and compelling evidence which demonstrate their culpability and negligence in polluting the Ivory Coast, Trafigura are using highly paid lawyers to bully people and silent the media.
In this instance, they’ve managed to intimidate the rather weak will BBC as Left Foot Forward reports:
“Libel reform campaigners have reacted with “dismay” at the BBC’s decision to concede to toxic waste shippers Trafigura in the High Court. In a statement, the BBC said it withdrew “the allegation that deaths, miscarriages or serious or long-term injuries were caused by the waste and apologises to Trafigura for having claimed otherwise.”
The case was brought by Carter Ruck on behalf after the BBC claimed in its Newsnight programme of 13 May 2009 titled ‘Dirty Tricks and Toxic waste‘ that Trafigura had caused deaths by being involved in the dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. A number of blogs carried the report even after it was removed by the BBC. In February 2007, Reuters reported that “Ivory Coast has confirmed the deaths of a five more people from exposure to toxic waste dumped in Abidjan last August, taking the death toll to 15.”
Readers will remember how Trafigura employed these tactics recently.
In the West we often think how hard done by we are, by the law.
Too many laws, too many restrictions, but have you ever considered that one law was starkly missing, one for: corporate manslaughter.
I have long thought that a law on corporate manslaughter is a dire necessity, but until 2008 there wasn’t one, and certainly it should have been used in light of Trafigura’s corporate neglect and poisoning of Ivory Coast residents.
Still, older readers will remember how that was not the first, nor the last occasion when a large company absolved itself of guilt by paying a few hundred million dollars, washing their hands of any guilt.
Another company did that too, Union Carbide.
Twenty-five years ago the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India released a toxic gas into the area around the plant, about 4000 died immediately.
Tens of thousands died within a few days of being exposed to the toxic gas, and yet whilst they were liable Union Carbide did not accept responsibility, eventually paying about $400 million damages to the Madhya Pradesh government, and building a hospital.
Even to this day the Union Carbide plant still pollutes the locality, and yet no one in the corporation has been found guilty of mass murder or negligence.
25 years on there is still the need for an enforceable international corporate manslaughter law, 25 years on we should remember the people of Bhopal.
Trafigura’s desire to keep the lid on the Minton report meant it spent an inordinate amount of money hiring the best lawyers that money can buy in Britain, Carter-Ruck, to keep even the name of the Minton report secret, lest people read it. The Guardian examines some of its contents:
“The Minton report, commissioned in 2006 from the London-based firm’s scientific consultants, said that based on the “limited” information they had been given Trafigura’s oil waste, dumped cheaply the month before in a city in Ivory Coast , was potentially highly toxic, and “capable of causing severe human health effects”.
The study said early reports of large scale medical problems among the inhabitants of Abidjan, including respiratory and eye problems, discomfort, and nausea, were consistent with a release of a cloud of potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas over the city.
The author of this initial draft study, John Minton, of consultants Minton, Treharne & Davies, said dumping the waste would have been illegal in Europe and the proper method of disposal should have been a specialist chemical treatment called wet air oxidation.
Although the report was cautious in tone, pointing out that unreliable press reports and “mass hysteria” might have led to exaggeration of alleged ill effects, its contents were unwelcome.
Trafigura subsequently did not use the report in the personal injury report in the claim against them and did not disclose the report’s existence.
It issued a series of public statements over the next three years saying the waste had been routinely disposed of and was harmless. Trafigura based this decision on other reports produced from an analysis of the slops obtained from the Probo Koala ship. Trafigura dismissed complaints of illness in a lawsuit brought by 30,000 inhabitants of Abidjan, before being eventually forced last month to pay them £30m in compensation and legal costs in a confidential out of court settlement.”
Trafigura have spent vast sums of money trying to override press freedom, keep secret the Minton report and protect their reputation, yet in the age of the Internet their actions have had the opposite effect.
Update 1: This page contains the related Guardian, Trafigura and the Probo Koala information.
Update 2: More on Twitter’s role in breaking the veil of secrecy imposed by Carter-Ruck.
Update 3: Stephen Fry as seen by the Torygraph.
Update 4: findingDulcinea on British Libel Law Examined After Controversial Gag Order Against The Guardian.
From The Guardian
The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.
Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.
The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.
The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.
From Parliament.uk, “Questions for Oral or Written Answer beginning on Tuesday 13 October 2009″
N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.
UPDATE – pleased to see that the mighty Guido Fawkes had the same idea. Injunction scuppered…
UPDATE 3 – Big thumbs up to The Spectator for, I think, being the first mainstream UK media to break ranks and fully report what’s been going on. If only they were this good the whole time – for any Spectator staff who are reading, can I request more of the defending-democracy stuff and less of the pseudo-debating AIDS-denialism? I hope Lord Fowler knows what you’re letting him in for!
Written by Richard Wilson
October 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm
Update 1: Given the wave of support for the Guardian across the web, Carter-Ruck have capitulated.
Update 2: More background on the role of Twitter that managed to defeat the combined muscle of lawyers and oil polluters can be found here.
Imagine, hypothetically speaking, that you attacked 30 or 300 people caused them to be poisoned or the equivalent of GBH several times over and that you did this, knowing full well the consequences of your own actions.
Whatever happened, it would be a very serious case, involving injury to many people.
Then imagine, instead, that you are an oil trading company, and you do the same to 30,000 + people in the Ivory Coast, what then?
Not much, you pay out about $100 million and forget about it.
That $100 million would be less than a quarter of Trafigura’s profits last year, which was $440 million, and no one at Trafigura is being prosecuted for poisoning, GBH or even malicious damage.
One rule for individuals, another for oil traders.