Monday, December 07, 2009

Human Rights: Carter-Ruck - Toxic Silence

"Legal advice to the Speaker's Office has further compunded fears for free speech in the Commons" The Guardian.

Caroline Davies of The Guardian has an excellent article about the attempt by London lawyers Carter-Ruck to stifle reporting of Trafigura and the Ivory Coast toxic waste scandal. The article focuses on Carter-Ruck's use of a "super-injunction".

Ms. Davies reports "the debate was sparked in September when the Guardian was initially prevented from reporting a question by Paul Farrelly, Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, which revealed the existence of such an injunction. The super-injunction, obtained by libel lawyers Carter-Ruck, not only gagged newspapers from reporting a leaked study which claimed toxic waste dumped by Trafigura on the Ivory Coast was capable of damaging human health, it also forbade reporting of the existence of the injunction and threatened contempt proceedings if Farrelly's question about it was also published.

It was only lifted after news of the injunction spread across social networking websites."

Read more...Super-injunctions do limit freedom of speech, Speaker's lawyers advise (The Guardian)

On their website Carter-Ruck boasts - "Where consulted before publication under its MediaAlert service, Carter-Ruck is often able to persuade a publisher or broadcaster to change its intended story or even to decide not to publish it at all. If this does not prove possible then the option of obtaining an injunction to prevent publication will be considered."


"We also have considerable experience of working (often alongside PR agencies) for blue chip corporations and other clients facing sustained and hostile media interest."

Such statements could prompt the question, just how much of what is reported in Britain is controlled by the media, and how much is influenced by "silencers" such as Carter-Ruck and others of their ilk, who appear to put profit before hard fought for principals such as democracy, freedom of speech and Parliamentary tradition and rights?

Is Britannia a country prepared to allow such rights to be surrendered to those who fight from behind desks, while her sons and daughters have died - and continue to die - on foreign battle fields in the name of such principals?

Britain and many other nations have battled to give the people of countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan the right to free debate unhindered by the threats of those who gain by silence.

Yet those very same rights and principals are in danger of being surrendered not on Flanders Field, The Somme or Helmand Province - but in the plush offices and courtrooms of dear old London Town.

More i On Global Trends articles relating to Trafigura.

Sunday, November 22, 2009 ( refers to FBI press release marked for "immediate release" Nov 12, reported by the UK media nine days later)
Madeleine McCann: McCann investigator indicted on charges of wire fraud and money laundering

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Pollution: Toxic wastes caused deaths, illnesses in Côte d’Ivoire

Friday, October 24, 2008
Environment: Ivory Coast toxic waste scandal - justice has not been rendered

Friday, October 03, 2008
Cote D'ivoire: Toxic waste criminal investigations may indict higher-ups

Other articles

21 November, 2009
Trafigura waste victims still waiting for compensation (AFP)

12 November, 2009
Toxic waste dump victims pin hopes on 19 November appeals (Amnesty International)

05 November, 2009
Authorities must ensure compensation reaches victims (Amnesty International)

19 August 2008 (IRIN)
UN warns toxic waste still a threat

14 September 2007 (IRIN)
Thousands of toxic waste victims could miss out on compensation

14 February 2007 (IRIN)
Company settles over toxic waste scandal

28 September 2006 (IRIN)
Toxic dumping health-scare over

19 September 2006 (IRIN)
French executives arrested in toxic-waste scandal

18 September 2006 (IRIN)
Clean-up of toxic waste begins

7 September 2006 (IRIN)
Cabinet resigns over toxic fumes scandal

6 September 2006 (IRIN)
Hundreds hospitalised after breathing toxic fumes

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See also Sydney Irresistible and Mike Hitchen Unleashed
Putting principles before profits