Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guardian gagged from reporting UK parliament

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.


Following press reportage about dumping off the coast of Africa, Waterson & Hicks, a UK law firm acting for Trafigura, a multi-national oil and commodity trader, ordered and received this confidential report (the so-called "Minton report") into toxic dumping practices by its client along and on the Ivory Coast. The report reveals a number of toxic dumping incidents and appears to be the report behind the extraordinary secret October 11, 2009 gagging of the Guardian newspaper. WikiLeaks believes the Guardian was gagged to prevent it reporting the following Parliamentry question:

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.

It appears WikiLeaks nailed it:

The existence of a previously secret injunction against the media by oil traders Trafigura can now be revealed.

Within the past hour Trafigura's legal firm, Carter-Ruck, has withdrawn its opposition to the Guardian reporting proceedings in parliament that revealed its existence.

Labour MP Paul Farrelly put down a question yesterday to the justice secretary, Jack Straw. It asked about the injunction obtained by "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".

David Heath MP: 'The public have a right to know what is said in the House of Commons'

The Guardian was due to appear at the High Court at 2pm to challenge Carter-Ruck's behaviour, but the firm has dropped its claim that to report parliament would be in contempt of court.

Another epically arrogant corporation, who's actions have now shown more light on them then if they'd kept their months shut and lawyers leashed.

Read more here.

No comments: