Richard Wilson's blog

richardcameronwilson AT yahoo dot co dot UK

Trafigura goes on trial next week in Amsterdam – will the UK media dare to report it?

with 3 comments

The report they tried to ban…

The Anglo-Dutch oil company Trafigura goes on trial in the Netherlands on June 1st, over its role in the allegedly illegal exporting of toxic waste to the Ivory Coast. According to the Ivory Coast authorities, the dumping of this waste led to 15 deaths, with other reports putting the death toll at 17.

Trafigura is notorious for its willingness to use UK libel law – which is famously one-sided and prohibitively expensive for most defendants – to suppress critical coverage. As a result, while the Dutch, Norwegian and American media have reported the case freely, few UK newspapers will even cover it, let alone mention the alleged death toll (which Trafigura continues to dispute).

When Trafigura and their London-based law firm, MacFarlanes, were formally accused in the Dutch courts of bribing witnesses (a charge they deny), there was silence about it in the UK media.  According to MacFarlanes themselves, such behaviour “would have been illegal and it would certainly have constituted serious professional misconduct”. Under normal circumstances, the laying of such charges against a UK law firm would have been a major news story. The fact that it has gone unreported in Britain shows how much damage our libel laws have done to freedom of speech and public interest journalism.

When the trial itself begins on June 1st, it will be interesting to see if any UK media dare to cover it. This will be a key test of how much power Trafigura now wields over the British press – and how much courage our journalists and editors have in resisting this company’s sustained attack on press freedom.

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Written by Richard Wilson

May 25, 2010 at 8:29 am

3 Responses

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  1. [...] begun her House of Commons career in style, by exercising Parliamentary privilege to help break the UK media’s silence over the upcoming trial in the Dutch courts against the oil company Trafigura. Under the [...]

  2. [...] newly-elected Green MP Caroline Lucas, The Independent  newspaper has taken a clear lead in the “Trafigura challenge” – the race to see which UK media outlet will be the first to report fully on the upcoming [...]

  3. Richard,

    Fopund your site whilst surfing for info on the new small star of Westminster.

    Hope we can continue to shine bright lights into dark places,

    Regards,

    Mike Cunningham

    mikecunningham

    May 30, 2010 at 10:58 am


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