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Trafigura v BBC: settlement and statement

Index on Censorship are reporting that the BBC have settled with Trafigura in their libel case – that would explain the “disappearance” of the videos. Here’s the joint statement in court. Here’s Trafigura’s new page, and here’s Carter-Ruck’s.

I don’t think this is the end of the matter, though. Settling and apologising is one thing; disappearing journalism is another, especially when that happened before there was any public explanation – and even now, the statements don’t tell us whether  or not the removal of the videos is part of the settlement. And it’s not clear why clarification, qualification or correction of the material was insufficient, and why instead we’ve just had complete removal of the videos. Of course the result is that the BBC reports will live on in cyberspace.

My hunch is that Trafigura and Carter-Ruck may have decided to ignore the internet as not important enough to sue – bloggers will find out before too long – and that they are adopting the “Millwall” position, knowing the web hates them, but not caring. Perhaps now this phase is sorted, Carter-Ruck’s lawyers will have time to respond to my e-mails of earlier this week, and explain whether or not they object to bloggers posting the original Liz Mackean Newsnight report. I’d like to know and I think it’s reasonable to ask them, too.

I think because of its own litigious actions the name Trafigura is likely for ever to be linked to toxic waste and restrictions on free expression. I expect they’ll rebrand themselves.


Here’s the Guardian’s take on the settlement, referring to a “combative” BBC statement.


Here’s at least part of that BBC statement. Note that the BBC says

An official Ivory Coast Government report into the incident had stated that people had died because of the waste and a recent United Nations report also found that there was strong prima facie evidence linking the waste to a number of deaths.

They mean this UN Report.

Yet Liz Mackean’s original report must disappear, and license-payers’ money must be paid out.

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