Tag Archives: carter-ruck

Press Gazette: Freelancer in libel case represented by Carter-Ruck

An update from Press Gazette on the libel fight of freelance journalist Hardeep Singh, which reports that the freelancer is being represented by high-profile law firm Carter-Ruck – better known for its work elsewhere…

In October the High Court in London granted Indian national His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj the right to appeal in his libel case against Singh.

Singh was sued by His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj, the head of a fringe Sikh religious institution, for an article published in the Sikh Times in 2007. The piece written by Singh called Jeet Singh “an accused cult leader” and alleged that his teachings were not in line with mainstream Sikh doctrine.

The case was thrown out by Justice Eady in May 2010, who ruled for a permanent stay with no right to appeal. In May Singh said the case had already cost him “in excess of £90,000”.

Full story on Press Gazette at this link…

Independent publishes Trafigura story correction

The Independent published a correction yesterday concerning its front page story from September 2009 ‘Toxic shame’, which contained claims of individuals who alleged they had been injured as a result of illegal dumping of waste in the Cote d’Ivoire by a Trafigura ship:

The article stated that claimants had been maimed and wrongly suggested that, due to the settlement, claims of more serious injuries including miscarriages would not be tested in the High Court case. In fact such claims had already been withdrawn earlier last year. A joint statement issued by both parties in that case said that independent experts have been “unable to identify a link between exposure to the chemicals… and deaths, miscarriages, still births, birth defects … or other serious and chronic injuries”. The story featured the photograph of a woman with a severely scarred face, a condition which Trafigura says, and we accept, cannot therefore have been caused by the waste. We are happy to set the record straight.

Full correction at this link…

Trafigura and its lawyers Carter-Ruck were at the centre of last year’s super injunction debate after Carter-Ruck abandoned an attempt to prevent the Guardian from reporting a parliamentary question about the company.

In December the oil trader ended its legal dispute with BBC Newsnight. The programme agreed to: apologise for allegations made about waste dumping in Côte d’Ivoire on air and pay £25,000 to a charity of Trafigura’s choice, as well as legal costs.

BBC Newsnight to broadcast Trafigura apology on tonight’s programme

Carter-Ruck has issued its response (via PR firm Bell-Pottinger) to today’s high court hearing resolution that ended the legal dispute between oil trader Trafigura and BBC Newsnight.

The BBC has agreed to apologise for allegations made about waste dumping in Côte d’Ivoire on air tonight; pay £25,000 to a charity of Trafigura’s choice, as well as legal costs.

[Full story at this link]

In a Newsnight programme in May 2009, the BBC alleged that waste dumped in Côte d’Ivoire in 2006 had caused deaths, miscarriages and serious long term health effects.

“Faced with such grave, yet wholly false, allegations, Trafigura was left with no alternative but to commence libel proceedings,” the British-based oil trading firm claimed today, through its solicitors.

Although the feature published in May 2009 disappeared from the BBC’s site last week
, the text and video has been made available via the whistleblowing site Wikileaks.

In a statement today, Eric de Turckheim, founder and director of Trafigura, said:

“Trafigura has always maintained that the slops cannot have caused the deaths and serious injuries alleged by the BBC. We informed Newsnight of the detailed evidence before the programme was aired – yet they chose to proceed with their highly-damaging and false assertions. We are pleased the BBC has now acknowledged that it was wrong.

“Trafigura accepts that the Probo Koala incident is a matter of public interest. However, there is no public interest in the BBC reporting damaging untruths. Such is the international reach and high-regard of the BBC, we were left with little choice but to bring these proceedings – the only libel claim we have brought anywhere in the world against any media outlet.

“With the benefit of the facts, Mr Justice MacDuff advised the media earlier this year to take note of the evidence and approach their reporting of these matters more responsibly. We hope that, in future, they do.”

The BBC statement can be read at this link. It says: “the BBC has played a leading role in bringing to the public’s attention the actions of Trafigura in the illegal dumping of 500 tons of hazardous waste in Abidjan in 2006. The dumping caused a public health emergency with tens of thousands of people seeking treatment.”

The corporation, however, has backed down by retracting its earlier claims. It now says that “the evidence does not establish that Trafigura’s waste caused deaths, miscarriages or serious or long term injuries”.

Trafigura agreed to pay victims of the waste dumping around £30 million in compensation in September 2009, having previously paid compensation of over £100 million to the Ivory Coast government. However, the company denies liability.

In October, Trafigura’s injunction on the ‘Minton Report’ – which looked into the effects of waste dumping – was lifted, following a five week legal battle with the Guardian.

Guardian.co.uk: Trafigura’s BBC libel case could be resolved today

A resolution is expected in the high court today, for the libel action brought against BBC Newsnight by oil traders Trafigura, the Guardian reports. A hearing is scheduled before Mr Justice Eady.

Full story at this link…

Background: Last week, one of the BBC features on Trafigura from May 2009, was reported to have disappeared online. Wikileaks.org have made the video and text available.

When Journalism.co.uk contacted Trafigura’s lawyers Carter-Ruck for comment yesterday, we were told a statement might be released today [Thursday]. BBC Newsnight, via its press office, did not wish to comment.

Guardian.co.uk: Government to convene senior politicians summit to ‘reinforce’ freedom of the press

The Guardian reports on yesterday’s parliamentary debate on the effect of libel law on reporting Parliament:

[Justice minister Bridget Prentice] announced that the government would convene a summit of senior politicians to discuss ways to ‘reinforce’ the freedom of the press in reporting parliament and the historic principle of parliamentary privilege.”


“In the debate today MPs from all parties criticised the issuing ‘super-injunctions’ against the press and their concerns were echoed by Prentice: ‘We are very concerned that they are being used more commonly and particularly in the area of libel and privacy, and the secretary of state for justice [Jack Straw] has already asked senior officials in the department to discuss that matter with lawyers from the newspapers and we are involving the judiciary in a consultation too.'”

Trafigura dumped as art prize sponsor following ‘recent events’

As noted by Richard Wilson, author of Don’t Get Fooled Again, and one of the bloggers to first publish MP Paul Farrelly’s secret injunction question on his blog, Trafigura – the third largest independent oil trader in the world – has been dropped as a sponsor of what was formerly the Trafigura Art Prize.

Cynthia Corbett’s art prize will no longer be sponsored by Trafigura, and will instead be renamed the Young Masters Art Prize, a release from the gallery stated.

“Since the prize was conceived two years ago we approached various art foundations and corporate organizations to sponsor an art prize. We feel that the recent events involving Trafigura are detracting from the main purpose of the prize, which is to celebrate emerging and newly established artists,” said Corbett.

Sixteen international artists are currently exhibiting work at the Young Masters exhibition, which opened at The Old Truman Brewery last week (the day before Trafigura dropped its injunction against the Guardian) with over 1200 visitors. The prize will seek funding for the prize money from alternative sponsors in future years; this year the prize will be non-monetary, the release stated.

Richard Wilson is currently hosting the ‘Alternative Trafigura Art Prize’.

For the latest on the Guardian-Trafigura-Carter-Ruck injunction triangle, see Journalism.co.uk stories at this link.

‘Super injunctions’ parliamentary debate: kicks off 2.30 pm

The effects of English libel law on the reporting of parliamentary proceedings will be debated in the House of Commons today at 14.30 pm.

You can watch it here at this link…

Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris secured the debate, following the legal row between the Guardian and Trafigura’s lawyers, Carter-Ruck.

Although a ‘super-injunction’ that stopped the Guardian reporting – or mentioning – the suppressed Minton Report was eventually lifted, it had prevented the Guardian reporting an MP’s question tabled for Parliament.

Carter-Ruck twice issued letters to the House, in regards to the case: firstly in response to media reports on how the firm was trying to ‘gag’ Parliament; secondly, indicating that the case could be ‘sub judice‘. On Friday Carter-Ruck abandoned its injunction and on Saturday the Guardian reported the draft report that Trafigura had battled so hard to keep secret. On Sunday Guardian.co.uk reported that the MPs’ debate would go ahead.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has dissected the injunction here for us on Guardian.co.uk although the document had already been made available by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) prior to the injunction being lifted.

The Times had also been issued with the same injunction, Wikileaks reported.


MediaGuardian: MPs’ super injunction debate to go ahead on Wednesday

John Bercow, speaker of the UK’s House of Commons, confirmed this weekend that parliament will this week debate the impact of so-called ‘super injunctions’ on parliamentary proceedings.

The debate will take place on Wednesday at 2:30pm (BST).

Full story at this link…

The debate follows last’s week action by legal firm Carter-Ruck, who tried to prevent media coverage of parliamentary question.

The particular question related to Trafigura, the oil trading company represented by Carter-Ruck, which has been involved in legal action with the Guardian.

Full details of last week’s campaign against Carter-Ruck and the action taken by the firm can be found at this link.

High Court does not collect statistics on ‘super injunctions’

Statistics about non-reportable injunctions, the so-called secret ‘super injunctions’ are not collected by the High Court, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Bridget Prentice said yesterday, in answer to a written Parliamentary question.

MP Paul Farrelly tabled a written question asking the Secretary of State for Justice ‘if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years.’

Bridget Prentice answered that the information requested is not currently available and the High Court has no intention to collate such data:

“The High Court collects figures on applications, however injunctions are not separately identifiable, and there are currently no plans to amend databases to do so.”

(Hat-tip: @loveandgarbage on Twitter)

Malcolm Coles: Carter Ruck’s new attempt to gag Parliament

A version of this post first appeared on MalcolmColes.co.uk.

Having failed to stop the Guardian reporting an MP asking a question about its client British oil company Trafigura and the injunction concerning the Minton report, law firm Carter-Ruck is making a second attempt to gag Parliament.

The firm has written a 3-page letter to the speaker of the House of Commons – in the middle of which are these two paragraphs:

“Until that resolution [of the matter referred to in the injunction], it is not appropriate to comment on the Order [the injunction], other than to make it clear that we and our clients are in no doubt that it was entirely appropriate for us to seek the injunctive relief in question …

“Clearly the question of whether this matter is sub judice is entirely a matter for your [the speaker’s] discretion, although we would observe that we believe the proceedings to have been and to remain ‘Active’ within the definition of House Resolution CJ (2001-02) 194-195 of 15 November 2001 in that arrangements have been made for the hearing of an application before the Court.”

The resolution, which is subject to the discretion of the Speaker, being referred to says this:

Matters sub judice

Resolution of 15th November 2001

Resolved, That, subject to the discretion of the Chair, and to the right of the House to legislate on any matter or to discuss any delegated legislation, the House in all its proceedings (including proceedings of committees of the House) shall apply the following rules on matters sub judice:

(1) Cases in which proceedings are active in United Kingdom courts shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question.

(b) (i) Civil proceedings are active when arrangements for the hearing, such as setting down a case for trial, have been made, until the proceedings are ended by judgment or discontinuance.

So although it is not spelt out in the letter, Carter-Ruck has written to the speaker to suggest that this matter is sub judice – active legal proceedings – and should not therefore be discussed in Parliament, according to the Westminster rules which prohibit MPs’ debates in those circumstances.

Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP had secured a debate for next week looking at the effects of English libel law on the reporting of parliamentary proceedings.

The speaker has not yet indicated whether he will provide a ruling.