Trafigura are suing the BBC news programme Newsnight for libel.
I quote directly from Carter-Ruck's (Trafigura's lawyers) press release announcing this lawsuit, dated 15th May 2009 and currently available on Carter-Ruck's website:
"Speaking today, a Trafigura spokesman said:
“Trafigura has today brought libel proceedings against the BBC over its Newsnight broadcast. This decision was not taken lightly.
Trafigura has always accepted that the Probo Koala ‘incident’ is a matter of public interest and has never objected to the media reporting on it responsibly. However, the BBC’s one-sided reports on 13 May were wildly inaccurate and libellous, leaving us with no choice but to take legal action. There was no justification or public interest in the BBC misleading its viewers in this way.
Trafigura has always denied that the slops caused the deaths and serious health consequences presented by the BBC – a position fully supported by independent expert evidence which will be presented to the Court in due course. As the BBC is well aware, these matters are already the subject of a personal injury action currently taking place in London. It is deeply regrettable that the BBC felt it appropriate to prejudge those proceedings in this sensationalist and inaccurate way.”
The trouble is, this statement appears to be in conflict with the Minton Report. The Minton Report was commissioned by Waterson & Hicks, another law firm acting on behalf of Trafigura, in the aftermath of the Ivory Coast disaster. Basically, the company was attempting to ascertain privately whether the human tragedy in Abidjan could possibly have been attributed to the dumping of slops from Trafigura's ship MT Probo Koala. And the short answer appears to be yes (check out the link above, it's a very interesting document).
The thing is, the Minton report is dated 14th September 2006. In large part it contradicts the press release quoted above, issued 15th May 2009.
Newsnight's 13 May 2009 report