“Filmmaker” who interviewed anti-asbestos activists may have been corporate spy
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Man spoke to Ottawa oh&s rep in September
(Canadian OH&S News) — A British man who claimed to be a documentary filmmaker and spoke with a number of anti-asbestos advocates in Canada last year is now accused of working as a corporate agent, paid to infiltrate the anti-asbestos movement.
The story came to light earlier in January, when a publication ban was lifted on the man’s name, Robert Moore, regarding his involvement in a civil case before the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom. Moore and a company called K2 Intelligence Limited allegedly infiltrated a worldwide anti-asbestos network to gather information on behalf of an unknown public-relations firm that had contracted them, according to court witness statements obtained by COHSN.
Among the individuals that Moore interviewed was Laura Lozanski, an occupational health and safety officer with the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). Based in Ottawa, Lozanski is an activist who has taught asbestos-awareness courses at the local Workers Health & Safety Centre.
“He said he was a documentary filmmaker, he was really interested in doing asbestos filmmaking,” Lozanski told COHSN, “regarding especially children that were involved in having to be part of any processing or manufacturing asbestos products.” Moore was planning to interview other anti-asbestos advocates, and Lozanski referred him to other contacts, she said, adding that he seemed very credible at the time.
“He actually worked for a reputable documentary company that did some stuff for National Geographic,” she explained. “He had done the work so that if you tried to look him up, he was who he said he was, at least on the surface.”
Lozanski allowed Moore to interview her in her office in September, but she did not feel afterwards that she and her associates had given him any potentially harmful information.
“We’re a very transparent group of people,” she said. “We were just talking about what we do, which, everybody knows what we do — we’ve been lobbying the government, and holding conferences, and talking about the medical fallout from developing asbestos-related diseases, and trying to get people compensated.”
Just before the Christmas holidays, Lozanski found out about the court case in the U.K., but still did not know that Moore was involved, due to the publication ban. She knew that Laurie Kazan Allen, the founder of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, had filed a claim along with two other people, alleging breach of confidence and misuse of private information.
“When I first came back to work, the first week of January,” said Lozanski, “the ban got lifted, and lo and behold, it was this person that had been sitting in my office.”
What concerns Lozanski and her fellow activists now is that corporate spies may be infiltrating anti-asbestos communities elsewhere.
“It wasn’t just here in Canada, it was in a number of countries,” she said, referring to Moore’s alleged activities. “We do have a number of activists in other countries, particularly in Asia and south Asia, who might be quite vulnerable to whatever it is that might be going on behind the scenes.”
Lozanski could not say for sure why Moore and K2 had gone to so much trouble to try to subvert the anti-asbestos movement. “We’re just speculating right now, because we don’t know, and of course, these are all allegations,” she said. “There’s money to be lost, for sure, so is that what’s driving it?”
Lozanski began working for CAUT in 2003 and became involved in the anti-asbestos movement as the issue became a large focus of her job. “The universities are full of asbestos,” she noted.
“We just want to see that it gets banned from being mined, produced and manufactured. And so we’ve been working towards that for the last decade, been quite successful in getting almost 50 countries now, Canada included, in agreeing to either full bans or partial bans and looking for safer substitutes.”