Posted on 21 December 2020
Rob Moore was engaged and paid by Mayfair-based K2 Intelligence to work on ‘Project Spring’ and to infiltrate and spy on the campaigners’ anti-asbestos network for the benefit of K2’s client. The network comprises eminent anti-asbestos campaigners whose activities, internationally, are focused on the prevention of asbestos-related diseases.
In a document entitled ‘Phase One Report’, Moore articulated the initial aims of the Project and set out the blueprint for obtaining information, stating:
“I would like to engage with IBAS [International Ban Asbestos Secretariat] and LKA [Laurie Kazan-Allen] in the most genuine and heartfelt way possible so that I can establish both an intellectual and emotional connection with LKA”.
Moore claimed to be a documentary filmmaker who wanted to make a film exposing the hazards of asbestos and to establish a ‘Stop Asbestos’ charity. Under this cover Moore embedded himself into the heart of the network, and from 2012 to 2016 gained access to highly confidential information, valuable to K2’s clients. His activities included covertly recording discussions with ban asbestos campaigners, including the Claimants, as well as talks given at private meetings. Invoices produced by Moore show that K2 paid him a total of £336,000 in fees and £130,400 in expenses.
Legal proceedings against K2, its Executive Managing Director Matteo Bigazzi, and Robert Moore, were initiated in October 2016. The Claimants were eminent anti-asbestos campaigners Laurie Kazan-Allen; Rory O’Neill; Krishnendu Mukherjee; Sugio Furuya and Harminder Bains.
They sued for breach of confidence, misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act. In October and November, the High Court granted injunctions against Moore and K2. Moore handed over more than 35,000 documents - 650 of which he claimed were passed to K2.
In March 2017, despite strenuous resistance, K2’s clients’ identities were revealed to be: 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.
It was alleged that the aim of Project Spring was to obtain information about the anti-asbestos campaign, its funding and its strategies particularly in relation to a ban on the importation and usage of chrysotile (white asbestos) in Thailand and Vietnam.
It was alleged that over the course of the project K2’s client made multiple requests for information via Matteo Bigazzi. These requests included requests for country-by-country updates from regional ban asbestos conferences and requests for information as to the campaigners’ expectations of when asbestos bans would be implemented.
In November 2018 K2 agreed to pay the Claimants substantial damages.