Adam Tudor, Carter-Ruck Sollicitors:
'As my firm is currently in correspondence with De Volkskrant's lawyers over defamatory allegations which were written by you and published on 9 April, I do not intend to discuss the subject-matter of those matters here. However, on a general note, both Trafigura and my firm reject your assertion that De Volkskrant's coverage has been "fair, responsible and balanced". Precisely the opposite is the case. As even the most cursory glance down your coverage demonstrates, your agenda appears to have been to paint Trafigura in as negative a light as possible, without letting a responsible and balanced assessment of the correct position get in the way of a "good story". Your articles have frequently proceeded on the (incorrect) premise that Trafigura is guilty of the most heinous of conduct, whether in the Netherlands, Ivory Coast or elsewhere, while only paying lip service (and sometimes not even that) to the company's public statements on the Probo Koala matter and ignoring publicly-available Court documents (for example in the High Court in London) which set out Trafigura's case in full. It is in those circumstances that Trafigura has been obliged to engage my firm to bring complaints against Volkskrant, in one case because Trafigura was concerned - in our view rightly - that certain statements you published might place Trafigura employees around the world in physical danger - a concern accepted by the BBC and Lloyd's List (to whom you refer) but totally ignored by De Volkskrant. It is clear from much of De Volkskrant's coverage of this matter, that the "sources" which you claim to rely on are likely to be entirely partisan, with their own agendas and therefore unreliable. It is indeed the case that we have, on Trafigura's behalf, written to a number of other media outlets around the world in respect of their coverage of this matter. Like any company, Trafigura values its reputation and cannot simply allow irresponsible, inaccurate and defamatory publications to go unchallenged. On the other hand, it is important to stress that, bearing in mind the volume of coverage that the Probo Koala "incident" has attracted, the number of occasions upon which Trafigura has been compelled to instruct us to write to such outlets has been minuscule. Both Trafigura, Bell-Pottinger and this firm have always acknowledged that the Probo Koala "incident" is a matter of public interest and that it is perfectly proper for the media to report on these matters, provided they do so responsibly and in a balanced and accurate manner - there being no public interest in a newspaper misleading its readers. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the media have indeed adhered to those principles. It is regrettable that your newspaper has not adopted a similar approach. Should you indeed be considering publishing an article concerning my firm's representation of Trafigura, please ensure that the contents of the above statement are reflected in full therein.'
Neil Cameron, Bell Pottinger:
'Bell Pottinger, along with Trafigura’s other agencies (including Van Kempen in the Netherlands) collectively communicate with many media organisations whenever newsworthy events occur that concern Trafigura. For example, in relation to last year’s legal developments in the Ivory Coast or the upcoming group action case in the UK, many journalists appreciate receiving factual information and clarifications from Trafigura, in order to keep them up-to-date or to assist with the preparation of informative, accurate and balanced news stories. Trafigura’s agencies have also communicated with a few journalists who published or broadcast stories that did not accurately reflect Trafigura’s position. In some instances, these journalists made no attempt to contact Trafigura before their stories were finalised, in order to check facts or to ask for the company’s opinion. Therefore, we were entirely justified to pass on relevant information and comments to these journalists once their inaccurate stories appeared in the public domain. Consequently, we completely disagree with your description of Trafigura’s involvement in an ‘aggressive media campaign’. Trafigura has always believed that it has a fundamental right to have its actions reported in a factual and honest manner by the media, in accordance with journalistic best practice standards. Like thousands of organisations around the world, Trafigura routinely works with lawyers and PR firms, along with other consultants. As is common practice, for commercial reasons the financial details of these business relationships are confidential.'