Carter-Ruck wins £25k libel settlement for Trafigura

Trafigura, advised by Carter-Ruck, has won a £25,000 compensation payout and an apology from the BBC over its reporting of the oil company’s legal battle with claimants based in the Ivory Coast.

Trafigura settled a £100m claim brought against it by 30,000 Ivory Coast based claimants who argued that responsible for liabilities spinning out of one of the largest pollution disasters in recent history – the dumping of 400 tonnes of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast by an oil tanker, the Probo Koala.

The claimants, represented by Leigh Day & Co partner Martyn Day, alleged the waste gave off toxic fumes that caused locals to suffer varying degrees of illness.

However, the case was settled for a reported £30m after the claimant lawyer failed to demonstrate any link between the waste deposited and any deaths, miscarriages, still births or other serious injuries (The Lawyer, 23 September).

Edwin Glasgow QC of 39 Essex Street was instructed by Macfarlanes partner Simon Nurney to act for Trafigura in that action.

At the same time Trafigura settled libel claims issued against Martyn Day as part of the deal.

The company, which instructed Carter Ruck partner Adam Tudor to act on its pursuit of libel claims, has also settled cases against The Guardian that resulted in the national newspaper agreeing to pay some of the defendants legal costs.

BBC lawyer David Attfield told Mr Justice Eady in the High Court today that the broadcaster accepted it was wrong to report that “slops” dumped by the Probo Koala caused deaths, miscarriages and chronic and long-term injuries on its flagship news program, Newsnight.

Tudor told the court: “Following Trafigura’s complaint over Newsnight’s story, the BBC carried out a detailed further review of the available evidence and of Trafigura’s detailed response in its reply in these proceedings. 

“The BBC accepts the conclusions reached by the experts in the personal injury action […]  The BBC therefore acknowledges that the evidence does not establish that Trafigura’s “slops” caused any deaths, miscarriages or serious or long-term injuries.  “Accordingly, the BBC has withdrawn those allegations and has agreed to broadcast an appropriate apology […].”

The settlement will be donated to charity.