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Trafigura releases report

Minton report: Carter-Ruck give up bid to keep Trafigura study secret | World news | The Guardian.

So Trafigura has given up its counter-productive attempts to suppress the Minton report. We can all read it if we wish. It's a dry technical account of what happened, setting out the possible health consequences to those who came in contact with the waste.

These were clearly matters of public interest and the Guardian was right to report them. In the wake of the cyber-furore, I am sure that companies and their lawyers will reflect on what happened and take different decisions in future. Lawyers are well aware of the non-legal consequences of legal actions and do take them into account when giving advice, though that advice is not always taken.

The practical consequences of an injunction are different now that opinion in favour of free speech can be rapidly mobilised by Twitter and blogs. It was interesting and gratifying that the editor of the Guardian credited the blogosphere in the linked article. Bloggers need to be aware however, even in their moment of triumph, that injunctions need to be taken seriously. Campaigning to have them lifted is fine, but breaching them can have serious consequences. The blogosphere is so entertaining partly because many bloggers are "not worth suing" and so don't worry about laws like defamation. Even that is unwise. Breaching an injunction is even more unwise. You could end up in jail for contempt of court.

Yesterday, I expressed my disappointment that so many bloggers misdirected their ire at working lawyers doing (as far as we all know) an honest job of work. In that context, please note that Trafigura's chief financial officer, told the Telegraph:

We decided that our best course of action at the time was to get the injunction, because we didn't want more inaccurate reporting on things which are very clearly wrong effectively. It is a heavy-handed approach, absolutely. With hindsight, could it have been done differently? Possibly.

The relevant words here are "We decided". Though this gentleman's protestation that the injunction "...was never intended to gag parliament or attack free speech..." is positively Mandelsonian, he has the decency to take responsibility on behalf of the company for its decision. QED.


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Colin Campbell

I am not surprised that they wouldn't want to publish it. It is very general. Not general enough to take the heat off and not specific enough to establish meaningful information. Either way, it does establish that they did not do the right thing and that may be enough to tarnish their brand along with their plan to bury bad news.

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