Endgame in Trafiguragate - Carter Ruck folds as Guardian secures free speech win

The Trafigura question has - without seeking to overstate the case - put democracy and freedom of expression to the test. Social media has displayed its role and effectiveness in following and promoting the debate and - to be fair to Carter Ruck - they have done everything they could for their clients, posturing by raising the sub judice angle to seek to diffuse the debate in Parliament, Alan Rusbridger (Guardian editor) was pushing for.

This evening it appears - as reported by the Guardian - that the paper has been 'released from restrictions forthwith' and justice can prevail through the proper and unfettered reporting of the issues.

So the reporting of information about the alleged dumping of toxic waste off the Ivory Coast has now been made possible. The irony is that in seeking to suppress the story the company is now center stage not merely for its waste dumping but also for its advisers attempts to suppress its activities. In this endgame it was the attempt to suppress the information and influence Parliamentary process that has drawn the focus of attention to this case.

TO the extent that the underlying questionable act of dumping waste is a legitimate focus of attention, the attempts to suppress or even pervert the democratic process have a more enduring resonance. The true crime in this case would have been if legal process (via what has been dubbed the 'super injunction') could have been used to suppress information and debate because a corporation could afford lawyers to scare off the press and enlist judicial support for their position.

While this case may not resolve or alter Trafigura's working practices it has raised and hopefully reasserted a fundamental democratic principle that the public has a right to know and the media a corresponding right to report what issues are raised and debated in Parliament.

Carter Ruck went the distance for their clients but ultimately they had to concede the endgame - had they not then one of the cornerstones of the democratic and legal process upon which they sought or may in the future seek to rely on would be undermined and be called into question - the ability to scrutinise and debate without undue influence is a crucial principle that deserves to be fought over and upheld. The law should be there to preserve rather than deny this right irrespective of who holds the cheque book.

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