The net is mightier than the gag #trafigura

Breaking news from the Guardian :

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

Within the last hour, Trafigura’s lawyers Carter-Ruck, abandoned an attempt to prevent the Guardian from reporting proceedings in parliament which 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”.

The past 16 hours have shown that rather than silencing the media, getting an injunction is the fastest way to publicise a firm’s record. Although Parliamentary questions are public property, libel lawyers Carter-Ruck sought to ban the Guardian from reporting Paul Farrelly’s question. Almost quaint in the internet age, when news can be all over the blogs/Twitter/world before the mainstream media have got their boots on.

Within minutes, the hashtag #trafigura had started trending among the most talked-about topics on Twitter, and by morning it was at number one. Many blogs and websites went ahead and published the Parliamentary question itself, sidestepping the injunction and making a mockery of Trafigura’s attempts to cover up.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has called the lifting of the ban “a victory for freedom of speech and online activism.”

Who’d heard of Trafigura before yesterday? But now, thanks to the actions of Trafigura’s lawyers, more attention has been drawn to the firm’s activities than if they had not tried to ban reporting of them.

Which neatly proves the point: toxic material is very difficult to hide…

For this, and this only: thank you Trafigura!

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3 Comments

  • Erlend Watson 13th Oct '09 - 5:12pm

    Is it just the Guardian that was injuncted or was this one of those super injunctions where all traditional news outlets just by knowing about it were held to be bound by it.

    I was a little puzzled overninght by the absolute lack of coverage on other papers and the BBC. While as it was not their story the coverage might have been limited, the only one that came up was the Spectator.

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