Email update : 7 February 2013
Nestlé spied on campaigners - court orders companies to pay damages to victims
Nestlé has been ordered by a Swiss court to pay damages and costs to members of Attac Switzerland, after it infiltrated the group with spies who reported to a former MI6 officer working for Nestlé. Securitas, which ran the spies for Nestlé, has also been ordered to pay damages to the campaigners.
One of the spies joined the editorial board for the book Attac against the Nestlé Empire - Baby Milk Action spoke at the launch of the book in 2004 in Nestlé's home town of Vevey, Switzerland.
In typical media management style, Nestlé responded publicly to the court order by saying it would study the Judge’s ruling and, "If it should turn out that a Nestlé employee had acted negligently, we shall take appropriate measures."
Fortunately Le Courier newspaper was not so naive as to fall for Nestlé's spin that the spying operation may have been an the over-enthusiastic rogue employee breaking the rules, commenting (26 January 2013):
"One may recall that the [Nestlé] defense attorneys had worked diligently to present the ATTAC members as potential criminals in order to better justify 'the preventive observation' of their activities. They had also declared that owing to their militant commitment, they could not 'claim such an extended protection of the private sphere' as an ordinary citizen."
In other words, Nestlé’s defense in court was campaigners are fair game to be spied on. The Judge disagreed.
For a press release from Attac Switzerland on the spying operation that ran from 2003 to at least 2008, see:
Although spying and then trying to excuse it in court is shocking, it is in keeping with Nestlé's past and current behaviour.
For example, Nestlé is currently attempting to economically blackmail the Philippines Government into weakening its baby milk marketing regulations, just as it threatened Zimbabwe in the 1990s.
Last year Nestlé opened a special hi-tech centre at its headquarters to monitor and respond to comments on the internet. In 2010 an online marketing company claimed in its promotional materials that Nestlé was paying its celebrity contacts US$10,000 a tweet for promoting Nestlé on Twitter.
For Baby Milk Action's reaction, links to news reports and a reminder of other past and present scandals involving Nestlé's use of the dark arts, see:
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