Trafigura-gate rumbles on as company seeks to suppress court documents

Oil company Trafigura which kept the courts and The Guardian’s legal department busy last year with its libel and other threats relating the articles about the alleged effects its alleged disposal of allegedly toxic waste was having on the health of people in the factually verified as affected western region of Africa has sent in the lawyers again.

Having made legal history in seeking to suppress the reporting of Parliament, the company is now reported to be seeking to ‘seal’ court records relating to last year’s proceedings.

This will be another interesting test for the courts and freedom of information given that the reporting of proceedings insofar as it is not or was not public could be deemed to be in the public interest. Surely if a case is brought in a court of law this is a matter of public record and unless the court proceedings are ruled to be and are heard only in private then the subject of these proceedings should be a matter of public record. Failing that and even if the subject matter contained within the proceedings is ruled as private then the fact of the proceedings themselves cannot be denied/suppressed (which is what Trafigura sought to argue last time round). If the company is confident that it is facing unfounded allegations then why not allow these to be publicised and then refute them? In seeking to create a blanket of smoke around the proceedings before they have even been reported, the company, one could suggest, is suggesting and arguable pouring more fuel onto its own fire.

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