Last Updated on 18th September 2019 by Kirsty Smithson
In a case that has been ongoing since October 2016 against Mayfair based K2 intelligence limited, the agency have finally agreed to pay substantial damages to five leading anti asbestos campaigners.
K2’s Executive Managing Director Matteo Bigazzi and Robert Moore were accused of spying on the asbestos campaigners Laurie Kazan-Allen, Harminder Bains, Rory O’Neill, Sugio Furuya and Krishnendu Mukherjee.
It was revealed that Mr Moore was employed by K2 to infiltrate and spy on the anti asbestos campaigners’ network for the benefit of K2’s client in a project known as ‘Project Spring’.
These prominent anti asbestos campaigners are focused on the prevention of asbestos related diseases on an international level.
In order for Moore to infiltrate their network, he would claim to be a documentary filmmaker wanting to make a film exposing the hazards of asbestos.
He also claimed that he wanted to establish a ‘Stop Asbestos’ charity.
The first phase of the plan though was to contact one of the anti asbestos campaigners, Laurie Kazan-Allen, and convince her of his good intentions.
Moore laid these plans out in a document that stated, “I would like to engage with IBAS [International Ban Asbestos Secretariat] and LKA  in the most genuine and heartfelt way possible so that I can establish both an intellectual and emotional connection with LKA”.
Moore succeeded using this method and finally managed to embed himself into the heart of the network.
As a result, from 2012 to 2016, he gained access to highly confidential information, which was very valuable to K2’s clients.
Over this period, he would record private conversations with anti asbestos campaigners and record meetings that were held.
Moore was paid £336,000 in fees and £130,400 in expenses by K2 over this period.
In October 2016, the anti asbestos campaigners started legal proceedings against Robert Moore for breach of confidence, misuse of private information and for breaching the Data Protection Act.
The High Court granted injunctions against both Moore and K2 in October and November 2016.
After the injunction was imposed, Moore handed over more than 35,000 documents.
He claimed that 650 of these were passed onto K2.
It wasn’t until the following March 2017 that the identities of K2’s clients were finally revealed, despite them strongly opposing.
K2’s client’s were revealed as being Wetherby Select Ltd, a holding company in the British Virgin Islands; Kazakh asbestos industry lobbyist Nurlan Omarov; and Daniel Kunin, a politically well-connected US national also directly involved in Kazakhstan’s asbestos industry.
The aim of ‘Project Spring’ was to allegedly obtain information about the anti asbestos campaign and its funding and strategies.
The clients were particularly interested in any information that could be sought regarding a ban on the importation and usage of chrysotile (white asbestos) in Thailand and Vietnam.
K2’s clients made multiple requests over the course of the project for information via K2’s Managing Director, Matteo Bigazzi.
They requested country by country updates from regional ‘ban asbestos’ conferences and also information on when asbestos bans would be implemented.
Founder and publisher of the British Asbestos Newsletter (BAN) and founder and co-ordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, Laurie Kazan-Allen, said, “The global campaign to ban asbestos is a legitimate grassroots movement backed by untold numbers of asbestos victims, trade unionists, NGOs, legal, medical and technical experts. This case was initiated to expose covert actions to infiltrate our network and target those of us perceived to be a threat to the asbestos industry. We succeeded in our aim in this litigation. The asbestos industry will lose the battle to preserve asbestos markets. We look forward to an asbestos-free future!”
Health and safety adviser to the global union confederation ITUC and Editor of Hazards Magazine, Professor Rory O’Neill, said, “Corporate spying is just one of the tools in the asbestos lobby’s locker. There is a cabal of UK-based scientists who are among the asbestos industry’s favourite hired guns, churning out junk science in defence of their wares. It is deceitful, deadly and must be stopped.”
Barrister and anti-asbestos campaigner, Krishnendu Mukherjee, said, “Rob Moore spied on anti-asbestos activists in India and in other Asian countries where the use of this carcinogen is rapidly increasing. We will put this behind us and carry on our struggle against asbestos with renewed vigour.”
Coordinator of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN), Sugio Furuya, said, “The spy shamefully deceived dedicated people working to avoid unnecessary deaths due to asbestos in Asia, the last resort for the international asbestos industry and the main target of the spying operation. However I can confirm, the work is continuing and Asia is moving towards a ban on asbestos.”
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Published Nov 13, 2018