THE SUNDAY TIMES: HAGUE TRIES TO HALT SHELL ‘MURDER’ CASE
27 May 2012
WILLIAM HAGUE has been accused of hypocrisy after the government intervened on the side of Shell, Britain’s biggest company, over court claims the oil giant was complicit in torture and murder.
The foreign secretary is facing pressure from human rights groups over Britain’s role in a case in America’s highest court being brought by the families of 12 people from Nigeria’s Ogoniland community.
The case puts Britain in conflict with President Barack Obama’s administration, which argues the families should be allowed to sue Shell over claims their relatives were tortured and killed by Nigerian troops in the Niger delta in the 1990s.
Evidence released in 2009 is alleged to show that Shell paid the Nigerian military to stop peaceful protests against pollution and helped police plan “scorched earth” raids on villages. The company said: “We vigorously deny all allegations of wrongdoing.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is now trying to have Supreme Court judges strike out the case.
Lawyers acting for Hague argued that the American courts should have no role in hearing cases against British corporations for alleged crimes committed outside America.
In a letter to Hague last week, Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said the FCO’s move “runs dangerously counter to the stated aims of your department and its professed commitment to … human rights”.
She added: “The allegations are grave: rape, systematic and widespread torture, extrajudicial killings.”
The FCO said it was not taking sides on the allegations against Shell. A spokesman said it “strongly defends human rights”.
COMMENT BY JOHN DONOVAN
Salient to note that William Hague is a former employee of Shell UK. He is now trying to help his former employer get away with murder.