October 19, 2009
Stephen Fry on Twitter, Trafigura and Moir

October 13, 2009
Freedom of Speech - free press challenged

MASSIVE uproar currently happening about an injunction taken out against The Guardian newspaper, preventing them from reporting on parliamentary questions relating to the Trafigura toxic waste dumping scandal. A summary:

The Guardian reported (on May 14th) that the Swiss Company Trafigura dumped toxic waste on the Ivory Coast, resulting in the sickness of many inhabitants of the area.

Then, yesterday, the following appeared in an article on the Guardian’s Website:

"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.”

All very cryptic…but the suggestion is that the dumping of toxic waste on the Ivory Coast is probably the subject of the question in parliament.

The Guardian’s editor-in-chief is today challenging the injunction which prevents a British newspaper from reporting what is happening in the British Parliament for the first time since the 18th century.

The injunction is only against the Guardian, which is why the Spectator is able to report the matter fully in a blog by Alex Massie although he notes there is no coverage of this story on the BBC website - although, in the time of writing this blog, there is now. And that’s how fast the new media moves…

Twitter is going mental about this (it’s all three of the top trending topics) and doubtless the story will develop as the day goes on. Can big business gag the free press? I think (and I hope) the Guardian will win this one…

BREAKING NEWS: and then, surfing a tidal wave of tweets, The Guardian wins its victory without even having to go to court. By preventing the newspaper from reporting a question about whether Trafigura was involved in illegally dumping toxic waste in Africa, the law firm Carter-Ruck sparked a massive storm in the Twitterverse, ensuring that more people now know about it than the entire readership of the Guardian for the week put together…

My favourite tweet from the whole episode?

(via @faustshausuk): I had never heard of #trafigura, but #Carter-Ruck have clearly never heard of the Internet: where EVERYTHING leaks.

Useful lesson in the power of social networking to influence legal decision-making, anyway. http://econsultancy.com/blog/4780-social-media-turns-toxic-avenger-for-the-guardian-trafigura-2

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »