View Full Version : Guardian gagged from reporting parliament

Magda Hassan
10-14-2009, 06:19 AM
Guardian gagged from reporting parliament

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Politics/Pix/pictures/2007/12/13/HousesofParliamentA460.jpg The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck. Photograph: John D McHugh/AFP

The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/theguardian) has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.
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.
The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.
The Guardian has vowed urgently to go to court to overturn the gag on its reporting. The editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "The media laws in this country increasingly place newspapers in a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it. It is doubly menacing when those restraints include the reporting of parliament itself."
The media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said Lord Denning ruled in the 1970s that "whatever comments are made in parliament" can be reported in newspapers without fear of contempt.
He said: "Four rebel MPs asked questions giving the identity of 'Colonel B', granted anonymity by a judge on grounds of 'national security'. The DPP threatened the press might be prosecuted for contempt, but most published."
The right to report parliament was the subject of many struggles in the 18th century, with the MP and journalist John Wilkes fighting every authority up to the king over the right to keep the public informed. After Wilkes's battle, wrote the historian Robert Hargreaves, "it gradually became accepted that the public had a constitutional right to know what their elected representatives were up to".

David Guyatt
10-14-2009, 08:32 AM
I'm intrigued about the why?

Magda Hassan
10-14-2009, 08:58 AM
Me too. I do know Carter Ruck are the lawyer of choice in libel tourism.

Helen Reyes
10-14-2009, 03:23 PM
first and only thing that springs to mind is a running drama on wikileaks.

Jan Klimkowski
10-14-2009, 05:04 PM
It's Trafigura and Carter-Ruck, truly a match made in Hell.

See here for details:


Trafigura is suing the BBC2 programme Newsnight for its reports on the case.

I would urge reasonable caution as to what is posted here at DPF, as Carter-Ruck's firm is notorious for launching libel suits against all and sundry, and pursuing them to the bitter bitter end.

Helen Reyes
10-14-2009, 08:31 PM
I would urge reasonable caution as to what is posted here at DPF, as Carter-Ruck's firm is notorious for launching libel suits against all and sundry, and pursuing them to the bitter bitter end.

Queen Mum's the word then. Constitutional crisis over dumping of toxic waste in Africa, it looks like.

Jan Klimkowski
10-14-2009, 08:52 PM
I would urge reasonable caution as to what is posted here at DPF, as Carter-Ruck's firm is notorious for launching libel suits against all and sundry, and pursuing them to the bitter bitter end.

Queen Mum's the word then. Constitutional crisis over dumping of toxic waste in Africa, it looks like.

Yes, indeed.

It stinks. It rots. It sears.

Unfortunately, English libel law is such a disgrace that scumbags from around the world seek to use it to impoverish those who would speak truth to power.

I believe several American states have introduced laws to make it illegal to use English libel law to restrict US First Amendment free speech rights.

Magda Hassan
10-16-2009, 02:13 PM
Who are the Judges who are granting secret injunctions on behalf of Trafigura and Barclays etc. ?

By wtwu on October 13, 2009 6:03 AM [/URL]

Who exactly are the Judges who are are, for no good reason,imposing secrecy orders which attempt to hide the very fact that a rich client has hired expensive lawyers to attempt to suppress a newspaper story ?.
There is often a case for Injunctions etc. about the names of the parties involved in a court case, but to attempt to hide the very fact that there are legal proceedings in the first place, is evil.
Such secrecy is not necessary even for the most serious cases involving National Security.
When this appears to be extended to the suppression of the reporting even of Parliamentary Written Questions, then it is time for the system to be reformed immediately.
See today's coded story in The Guardian:
Guardian gagged from reporting parliament (http://p10.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/blog/2009/10/13/who-are-the-judges-who-are-granting-secret-injunctions-on-behalf-of-trafigura-an.html#comments)
which has provoked the Streisand Effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect) flurry in the blogosphere and the twitterverse e.g. Guido Fawkes (http://order-order.com/2009/10/12/guardian-gagged-from-reporting-parliament/) and Ministry of Truth (http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2009/10/12/defending-parliamentary-privilege/) etc.
Presumably it was one of these Written Questions, by former financial journalist (at Reuters, the Independent on Sunday and City Editor at The Observer) Paul Farrelly (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/paul_farrelly/newcastle-under-lyme), the Labour MP for Newcastle under Lyme.

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmordbk2/91013o02.htm)
Questions for Written Answer (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmordbk2/91013o02.htm)
Notices given between Thursday 17 September and Friday 9 October
N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the Court of Appeal judgment in May 2009 in the case of Michael Napier and Irwin Mitchell v Pressdram Limited in respect of press freedom to report proceedings in court.

Pressdram Limited are the publishers of Private Eye (http://www.private-eye.co.uk/) satirical magazine.
BAILLI have the judgment online: Napier & Anor v Pressdram Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 443 (19 May 2009) (http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2009/443.html)

61 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): 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. (293006) Inevitably, copies of these documents are available on the WikiLeakS.org (https://wikileaks.org/) whistleblower website in Sweden.
How do expensive firms of lawyers still get away with charging so much money, for legal threats and injunction tricks, which try to suppress information in the media and on the internet, but which are so ineffective and counterproductive to the interests of their clients ? They inevitably create their own public relations disasters.

62 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years. (293012) 63
N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what mechanisms HM Court Service uses to draw up rosters of duty judges for the purpose of considering time of the essence applications for the issuing of injunctions by the High Court.
Good questions - will Jack Straw and the rest of the Ministry of (In)Justice evade giving any proper answers, as usual ?
WIll any investigative journalists or bloggers look into the possible corruption of the Judiciary, which such secrecy inevitably raises suspicions of ?

Jan Klimkowski
10-16-2009, 09:46 PM
Minton report: Carter-Ruck give up bid to keep Trafigura study secret

Guardian 'released from restrictions forthwith'
Report called firm's oil waste 'potentially toxic'
Read the Trafigura study: the Minton report (pdf)

* David Leigh
* guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 October 2009 22.19 BST

Lawyers for oil traders Trafigura finally abandoned attempts to keep secret a scientific report about toxic waste dumping in west Africa, that was shown to the Guardian.

Just after 7.30pm Carter-Ruck, libel lawyers for Trafigura, wrote a letter to the Guardian which said the newspaper should regard itself as "released forthwith" from any reporting restrictions.

An MP revealed the report's existence to parliament this week, after the Guardian was hit with a "super-injunction" banning all mention of it and other UK media were then subsequently notified of, and therefore bound by it.

The Minton report, commissioned in 2006 from the London-based firm's scientific consultants, said that based on the "limited" information they had been given Trafigura's oil waste, dumped cheaply the month before in a city in Ivory Coast , was potentially highly toxic, and "capable of causing severe human health effects".

The study said early reports of large scale medical problems among the inhabitants of Abidjan, including respiratory and eye problems, discomfort, and nausea, were consistent with a release of a cloud of potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas over the city.

The author of this initial draft study, John Minton, of consultants Minton, Treharne & Davies, said dumping the waste would have been illegal in Europe and the proper method of disposal should have been a specialist chemical treatment called wet air oxidation.

Although the report was cautious in tone, pointing out that unreliable press reports and "mass hysteria" might have led to exaggeration of alleged ill effects, its contents were unwelcome.

Trafigura subsequently did not use the report in the personal injury report in the claim against them and did not dislcose the report's existence.

It issued a series of public statements over the next three years saying the waste had been routinely disposed of and was harmless. Trafigura based this decision on other reports produced from an analysis of the slops obtained from the Probo Koala ship. Trafigura dismissed complaints of illness in a lawsuit brought by 30,000 inhabitants of Abidjan, before being eventually forced last month to pay them 30m in compensation and legal costs in a confidential out of court settlement.

The oil firm then conceded in a public statement that the toxic fumes could have caused "flu-like symptoms" to the inhabitants. But it was accepted in an agreed statement by both sides that expert evidence did not back the graver claims of deaths, miscarriages or serious injuries, made in previous official statements by the Ivory Coast and UK governments and in a UN report.

Before the settlement announcement, Trafigura's lawyers Carter-Ruck obtained a super-injunction from a judge, banning the Guardian not only from revealing the existence of the Minton report, but also from telling anyone about the existence of the injunction.

They said the Minton report was confidential because it had been obtained for possible use in litigation.

Trafigura said the report was only preliminary and had proved to be inaccurate. They said hydrogen sulphide in the waste could not have broken down into a dangerous gas after the dumping and that other experts had concluded: "no other chemicals were released in concentrations capable of causing significant harm to human health".

Carter-Ruck was unable to prevent the publication of internal company emails by the Guardian, which confirmed that Trafigura executives had been aware in advance that their waste was hazardous, and knew that it ought to have received expensive specialist treatment.

Company traders talked about making "serious dollars" from paying someone to take away their "shit".

Attempts by Carter-Ruck to suppress the Minton report led to a controversy about parliamentary privilege this week, when the law firm initially tried to prevent reporting of parliamentary questions tabled by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly. They later abandoned this attempt.

Carter-Ruck was accused by angry MPs of potential contempt of parliament, and one Tory, Peter Bottomley, said he would report the firm to their disciplinary body, the Law Society.

Tonight, Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor said: "I welcome the climb-down by Trafigura and Carter-Ruck. Now people can read the Minton report they will realise why it was in the public interest for it to be published. It has taken a five-week legal battle - involving journalists, lawyers, bloggers and parliament itself - to force this information into the open. Never again should a newspaper be threatened with contempt of court for reporting parliament. And judges should think again about the use of super-injunctions which are themselves secret. This is a good day for parliament, open justice and free reporting."

Pierre Lorinet, Trafigura's chief financial officer, told the Daily Telegraph: "Effectively that report was a draft report, a work in progress, very much when the event was happening and that report was effectively an analysis of possibles.

"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 injunction was never intended to gag parliament or attack free speech."


Jan Klimkowski
10-20-2009, 06:34 PM
Trafigura: anatomy of a super-injunction


The link is to a clause-by-clause dissection of the "super-injunction" in all its filth, with a pdf of much of the original document.

Magda Hassan
09-30-2015, 03:57 PM
Forget Glencore: This Is The Real "Systemic Risk" Among The Commodity Traders http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/pictures/picture-5.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/users/tyler-durden)
Submitted by Tyler Durden (http://www.zerohedge.com/users/tyler-durden) on 09/29/2015 20:43 -0400

Black Swan (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/9956)
Bond (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/10414)
CDS (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/142)
Corruption (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/10021)
Fail (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/9344)
Global Economy (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/10655)
Iran (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/8419)
Lehman (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/10959)
Racketeering (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/10005)
Switzerland (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/9867)
Too Big To Fail (http://www.zerohedge.com/taxonomy_vtn/term/10272)

Back in July, long before anyone was looking at Glencore (or Asia's largest commodity trader, Noble Group which we also warned (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-18/noble-group%E2%80%99s-kurtosis-awakening-moment-commodity-markets)last month was due for a major crash, precisely as happened overnight) which everyone is looking at now that its CDS is trading points upfront and anyone who followed our suggestion last March to go long its then super-cheap CDS (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-13/cheapest-and-most-levered-way-play-chinese-credit-commodity-crunch)can take a few years off, we had a rhetorical question:

Which will be first: Trafigura, Mercuria or Glencore
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) July 22, 2015 (https://twitter.com/zerohedge/status/623664257419247616)
Judging by what happened less than two months later, it appears that we have our answer: for now at least, Glencore, which is now flailing and which Bloomberg reported moments ago is set to meet with its bond investors tomorrow (supposedly to allay their fears of an imminent insolvency), is firmly the "answer" to our rhetorical question.
And yet, something stinks.
First, a quick look at Trafigura bonds reveals that the contagion from the Glencore commodity-trader collapse, which "nobody could possibly predict" two months ago and which has rapidly become the market's biggest black swan, has spread and we now have a new contender. And while Trafigura's equity is privately held, it does have publicly-traded bonds. They just cratered:
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/20150929_TRAF1_0.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/20150929_TRAF1.jpg)

... sending the yield soaring to junk-bond levels.
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/20150929_TRAF_0.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/20150929_TRAF.jpg)

As discussed below, this may just be the beginning for the company which, because it does not have publicly traded equity - but has publicly traded debt - has so far managed to slip under the radar.
But who is Trafigura? Only the world's third largest private commodity trader after Vitol and Glencore.
From the company's own description (http://www.trafigura.com/about-us/):

Trafigura is one of the world’s leading independent commodity trading and logistics houses. We’re at the heart of the global economy. Every day and around the world, we are advancing trade – reliably, efficiently and responsibly. We see global trade as a positive force and we go further to make trade work better.


More important than some pitchbook boilerplate, is the company's history: Trafigura was formed in 1993 by Claude Dauphin and Eric de Turckheim when It split off from a group of companies managed by Marc Rich, aka "the king of oil" in 1993.
Who is March Rich? Why the founder of Glencore of course who as a reminder, was indicted in 1983 on 65 criminal counts including income tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and trading with Iran during the oil embargo. Upon learning his prison sentence may be as long as 300 years, Rich promptly fled to Switzerland; he was so afraid of US authorities, he even skipped his daughter's funeral in 1996.
Marc Rich got a presidential pardon from Bill Clinton in a decision which was blessed by the kingpin of corruption, former DOJ head Eric Holder. Clinton himself later expressed regret for issuing the pardon, saying that "it wasn't worth the damage to my reputation."
But back to Trafigura, whose summary financials reveal that the company - with $127.6 billion in revenues in 2014 and $39 billion in assets - is absolutely massive. In fact, in terms of turnover, it is virtually the same size as Glencore.
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/traf%20fins_0.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/traf%20fins.jpg)
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/traf%202_0.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/traf%202.jpg)

But the most important and relevant numbers are on neither of the pretty annual report grabs above. They are highlighted in red in the excerpt from the company's interim report: the $6.2 billion in non-current debt and $15.6 billion in current debt for a grand total of 21.9 billion in debt!
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/trafigura%20debt_0.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/trafigura%20debt.jpg)
Now, this is less than Glencore's $31 billion (the implication being that Trafigura has a solid $6 billion equity cushion although judging by the bond plunge the market is starting to seriously doubt this) but the problem is that Trafigura's EBITDA is lower. Much lower.
According to CapIq, Trafigura had $1.8 billion in LTM EBITDA, suggesting a debt/EBITDA leverage ratio of a whopping 12x. If one wants to be generous and annualizes the company's disclosed 6-month EBITDA (for the period ended 3/31/2015) of $1.1 billion, the EBITDA grows to $2.2 billion. This lowers the debt/EBITDA for Trafigura to "only" 10x.
Indicatively, Glencore's own debt/EBITDA, and the reason for so much conerns about the company's solvency, is about half of Trafigura's.
At least on the surface, it appears that Trafigura, which is as reliant on the ups and down of commodity trading as Glencore, is far more levered, and exposed, to any commodity crush than the Swiss giant.
But what really set off our alarm bells, is that a quick skim through the company's annual report reveals something disturbing: a commissioned report titled "Too Big To Fail: Commodity Trading Firms and Systemic Risk (http://www.trafigura.com/media/2949/the-economics-of-commodity-trading-firms-in-english-abridged-pdf-for-web.pdf)" whose purpose was to explain why, as the title implies, commodity trading firms are not systemically important. The timing, just months before a historic rout for commodity traders, is odd to say the least.
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/pirrong%20trafigura_0.jpg (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/09/pirrong%20trafigura.jpg)
As a general take, any time someone first brings up, and then tries to talk down the impact of something as being "Too Big To Fail", run.
More seriously, there are two problems with this analysis: as events in the past week have shown, commodity trading firms clearly carry a systemic risk: after all, one after another news outlet rushed to explain why yesterday's market plunge was the result of Glencore fears. It would have been the same with Trafigura's equity plunge... if the company had publicly-traded equity instead of just debt.
The second problem is the subheader to the paper:

Trafigura commissioned a white paper this year on commodity trading firms and systemic risk. Its author, Craig Pirrong, explains why he believes these firms are unlikely to have a destabilising effect on the global economy.
The paper's conclusion (http://www.trafigura.com/media/2949/the-economics-of-commodity-trading-firms-in-english-abridged-pdf-for-web.pdf): "Commodity trading firms are not a source of systemic risk."
Who is Craig Pirrong? As the NYT explained in a 2013 article titled "Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/28/business/academics-who-defend-wall-st-reap-reward.html?_r=0)", Pirrong, a University of Houston professor, is just a member of that all too pervasive "paid expert for hire" group, academics without actual credibility inside their own circles, and who as a result will "opine" on anything and everything - usually involving Wall Street regulatory and "risk" matters, just to get paid.
This is precisely what Trafigura did when it commissioned him to "explain" why Trafigura is not systemic. Ironically it did so in August (http://www.trafigura.com/media/2949/the-economics-of-commodity-trading-firms-in-english-abridged-pdf-for-web.pdf), just as all hell was about to break loose for the commodity traders, especially the most systemic ones.
And while the market has shown how the paid opinions of such "experts for hire" should be completely ignored, the question remains: just what was Trafigura so concerned about when it commissioned a well-compensated study meant to goal-seek the company's explicit conclusion: that it is not systemic, when it obviously is.
Opinions aside, at the end of the the market will decide just who is systemic and who isn't. One look at the price of Trafigura's bonds above has given us the answer: it is a move comparable to what happened to Lehman bonds - if not equity - the day after the bankruptcy filing.
http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2014/08/Lehman%20repricing_0.JPG (http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2014/08/Lehman%20repricing.JPG)
Clearly the Lehman bonds could not believe what just happened until it was too late. For Glencore, and increasingly Trafigura, the bond price is finally signalling the realization that "this is indeed happening."

Magda Hassan
09-30-2015, 03:59 PM
Founder, Top Shareholder Of Commodity Giant Trafigura Has Died
01/10/15 01:41

In a tragic, if very odd coincidence, a day after we postulated that the real "commodity-trader" risk may not be Glencore after all, but its just as vast, if even more levered competitor, Trafigura, moments ago the privately-held company (with publicly traded bonds), announced that its founder and biggest shareholder, french billionaire Claude Dauphin has died at the age of 64.

From the press release:

It is with great sadness and regret we have to announce that Trafigura’s Founder and Executive Chairman, Claude Dauphin, passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning in a hospital in Bogota, Colombia after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

Claude Dauphin (64) has been a leading figure in the global commodities trading industry for more than three decades. He founded Trafigura together with five partners in 1993, and as Chairman and CEO built the company into its current position as one of the world’s leading traders of oil, metals and minerals.

“Claude will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and vast network of business partners, as well as by us all,” said Jeremy Weir, CEO Trafigura. “We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for a career full of achievement and entrepreneurial endeavour and for his energy, inspirational leadership, generosity of spirit, humility and humour.”

Our deepest condolences go to his wife and children.

Dauphin's bio from Wikipedia:

Dauphin worked for nearly 22 years as an oil executive at Victoria Trading Services (UK) Ltd. In 1990, at the age of 39, he assumed his first directorship. The following year he became a director at A.O.I. (UK) Ltd. He moved to Marc Rich & Co. (now Glencore) from 1991 to 1992. In 1993 Dauphin and several other senior traders at Marc Rich founded Trafigura.

Trafigura is known for its role in the 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump environmental disaster. Dauphin and four others were imprisoned in Ivory Coast for five months on charges of dumping toxic waste; afterward they were released and all charges were dropped. While Trafigura denied responsibility and culpability, it paid €1.3 million in an out-of-court settlement.

Dauphin communicates with lenders and bondholders in the company’s annual report, but does not speak publically. He is married and has three children.

Our condolences go to his friends and family, even as our eyes are following the impact of this news on Trafigura's bonds.