Trafigura: Newsnight to apologise

BBC Press statement

The BBC has played a leading role in bringing to the public’s attention the actions of Trafigura in the illegal dumping of 500 tons of hazardous waste in Abidjan in 2006. The dumping caused a public health emergency with tens of thousands of people seeking treatment.

Last month, Trafigura agreed to pay victims of the waste around £30 million in compensation, having previously paid compensation of over £100 million to the Ivory Coast government.Trafigura brought libel proceedings against the BBC over one aspect of its reporting: claims that the waste had caused deaths, miscarriages and serious long term health effects. An official Ivory Coast Government report into the incident had stated that people had died because of the waste and a recent United Nations report also found that there was strong prima facie evidence linking the waste to a number of deaths.

Last month Trafigura agreed to pay victims of the waste around £30 million in compensation for sickness suffered. However, the experts in that case were not able to establish a link between the waste and serious long term consequences including deaths. In light of this, the BBC acknowledges that the evidence does not establish that Trafigura’s slops caused deaths, miscarriages or serious or long term injuries. Accordingly, the BBC has withdrawn those allegations and has agreed to broadcast an appropriate apology on Newsnight. The BBC will pay £25,000 to a charity of Trafigura’s choice.

Libel: BBC backs down on Trafigura report

The BBC has today withdrawn claims made on flagship news programme Newsnight that oil-trading company Trafigura caused deaths in the Ivory Coast after toxic waste was dumped there. in a settlement designed to head off a potentially massively expensive libel case, the BBC will make a small donation to charity at Trafigura’s request.

While other sources, including the British government, claimed that Trafigura’s actions had caused deaths in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s largest city, Newsnight was unable to independently verify the claim.

Sources at the BBC say the corporation faced up to £3 million in legal costs if it defended the case against Trafigura.

Read BBC court statement here