Guardian Gagged - Bloggers Bothered - #Trafigura trashed

The Guardian announced excitedly last night that it had been gagged -

"prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings".

Their mock-indignation was admirable, but secretly they're probably fucking delighted.

Nothing sells papers like controversy, and all multi-million pound media organisations love to pretend to be rebel loners, exposing the 'truth' at great personal risk.

But really, they were just - bizarrely - being prevented from reporting on a question due to be tabled in Parliament. A question among the many questions listed and freely available to anyone in Hansard, for fuck's sake.

Old Holborn spotted the story last night, and the usual bunch of conspiracy theorists solemnly informed us that this was just the first step of the Lizard's masterplan to take over then eat our brains. Several commenters also had rather more sensible guesses as to what the question might be. There are plenty of candidates.

Like the fat boy struggling to keep up with the football, Guido soon joined in, posting his guess (not in the inner circle on this one, eh?) as to what the question might be, and adding

"Guido’s publishers will only accept service as per the requirements of the Hague Convention"

Pur-lease. Sorry, Guido, the bandwagon left ten minutes ago.

The blogosphere - and her excitable little sister, the Twittersphere - leapt into action as this morning wore on, and it's now commonly agreed that the question in question, as it were, was the one due to be tabled by MP Paul Farelly

"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"

Looks a bit dull, really, but actually, its fucking dynamite.

The Minton report - available on Wikileaks, naturally - describes how UK Oil Company Trafigura dumped a load of filthy toxic crap - crap so utterly filthy, it's banned in Europe - all over the unfortunate population of Abidjan, in West Africa, a few years ago.

This filthy toxic crap unsurprisingly made a lot of people very ill - nausea, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhoea  - and some people extremely fucking ill - miscarriages and birth defects, even deaths. The Guardian has written about this before.

Obviously, Trafigura aren't exactly bursting with pride about all of this, and have retained Legal Rottweilers to hammer down the report and the underlying story wherever it appears. Dutch Newspapers, Norwegian TV stations and numerous others have been silenced by the legal heavies.

But, in the sort exercise more usually associated with Gordon 'ooops' Brown, they have now taken careful aim, closed their eyes, and machine-gunned both feet to smithereens.

By trying to stifle the reporting of a question about their heavy handed suppression, they've awoken the Blogosphere. Big mistake. Fucking huge.

Trafigura are now getting the kind of global publicity that even Coca-Cola couldn't afford. And the sad, tired Grauniad will have sold more copies that it has for years.

Good job, Carter-Ruck!!

++ UPDATE ++:  The Spectator have bravely broken ranks, going with the full story-so-far. Unlike the BBC, who are currently majoring on a picture of CallMeDave making a funny face.

++ UPDATE II ++ : as Stu / @sshrpe points out in the comments, "timeline is slightly wrong .. first person on this was Richard Wilson, who also identified the Hansard question that this is probably about, half an hour before Old Holborn OR Guido". Credit where credit's due.

++ UPDATE III ++ : yup, they caved. Having provided their 'clients' with the worst negative publicity ever, Carter-Ruck have decided that perhaps its not possible to gag the proceedings of the Mother of all Parliaments after all.  We all look forward to seeing their invoice at the end of this month...



Stu said...

Your timeline is slightly wrong. As far as I can tell the first person on this was Richard Wilson, who also identified the Hansard question that this is probably about, half an hour before Old Holborn OR Guido.

manwiddicombe said...

The Daily Politics today lead with a story about something that they couldn't report on .. .. .. .. at least some parts of the BBC are angry about this.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Whilst everyone is condemning Carter-Ruck, surely the person who needs to be called to account is the judge who granted the injunction?

JuliaM said...

Do we know who it is? None of the accounts have mentioned him yet.

JuliaM said...

Iain Dale now reporting that Carter Ruck have thrown in the towel.

lauraO said...

38 Degrees are currently running a campaign on this. Take action now by emailing your MP and asking them to take a stand. Take action now, it only takes 2 mins. Go to:

I am Stan said...

¨Dumping toxic waste¨

This is the first ive heard of this sounds horrific..i wonder whose filthy hands are covered in this stuff,bastards..

Is there no end to what people will do to others just to make profit..i despair!

38 Degrees eh! hope has been restored

thanks LauraO

banned said...

Brilliant own goal by Carter £uck.