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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Parliamentary goings on

"An interesting exchange in the Commons this afternoon following the Guardian story:

Paul Farrelly told the House of Commons that he had sought to raise a question about Trafigura, which was an international oil trader “at the centre of a controversy concerning toxic waste dumping in the Ivory Coast.”

“The question also relates to the role of the solicitors Carter Ruck. Yesterday, Mr Speaker, I understand that Carter Ruck quite astonishingly warned the newspaper of legal action if the Guardian reported my question. Mr Speaker, will you accept representations from me in this matter to consider whether Carter Ruck’s behaviour constitutes potential contempt of court?”

The Speaker replied that the matter was not sub judice. He said that the written question had already been tabled, was on the order paper and on the Parliament website. “There is no question of our own proceedings being in any way inhibited,” he said.

David Heath, a Liberal Democrat MP, said Parliamentary privilege was a long-established principle and there should be further debate in the Commons about the issue.

David Davis, former shadow home secretary, said the phenomenon of “super-injunctions” - where the media could not even report the existence of an injunction - was relatively new. He asked whether the Speaker could seek legal advice to prevent the “closing down” of reporting of Parliament, or seek a meeting with the Justice secretary to see if the government could intervene.

The Speaker dismissed Mr Davis’s first suggestion, saying it could be seen as interference in the legal process. However, he would consider the merits of the second suggestion"

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