No appeal from Nestle in spying case

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Press release - 23 March 2013

Nestlé indicated on 21 March that it will not be appealing against a Swiss court ruling in January that ordered it to pay damages and costs to members of Attac Switzerland after infiltrating the group with spies. Securitas, which ran the spies for Nestlé and was also ordered to pay damages and costs, has also indicated it will not be appealing.

In a statement Nestlé said that the staff involved are no longer working for Nestlé and the activities go against the company's principles, yet during the court case it defended the spying operation with the argument that the campaigners were legitimate targets for 'preventive observation' - see Baby Milk Action's 26 January press release. At the time of the first court hearing, Nestlé's legal director, Hans Peter Frick, even told RTS that Nestlé would do the same again if it thought it necessary (see: Affaire Attac: Nestlé pourrait récidiver - Attac Affair: Nestlé could return).

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, said:

"Just days after Nestlé released its Creating Shared Value summary report presenting itself as a responsible corporate citizen, here is yet more proof that this company abuses human rights. Spying on campaigners is shocking, but is not surprising given the unethical behaviour executives are responsible for around the world every single day. Nor is it surprising that caught out, Nestlé claims the behaviour is an aberration.

"Nestlé pushes its baby milk around the world claiming it 'protects' babies, when it knows that babies fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfeed babies and, in conditons of poverty, more likely to die. This practice is defended at the highest levels of the company. Right now Nestlé is attempting to replace legislation in the Philippines on the marketing of baby milks with its own weaker law. This is the reality, not the PR spin of Nestlé's Creating Shared Value reports.

"People need to look at what Nestlé actually does - not what it says it does - and hopefully the court's ruling and the fact that Nestlé knows it has no grounds for appeal will serve as a wake up call. Congratulations to the individuals at ATTAC Switzerland for pursuing this case. It takes courage to take on a company as powerful as Nestlé, particularly after it has demonstrated it will go to extreme lengths to try to defend its unethical practices."

For a press release from Attac Switzerland at the time of the ruling - click here.

For Baby Milk Action's press release of 26 January 2013 examining other underhand practices by Nestlé - click here.

For a news report in French, see:

and HERE for Le Courrier (click here for English translation).

In typical media management style, Nestlé responded publicly to the court ruling 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 the over-enthusiastic rogue employee breaking the rules spin, 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 comment contact Mike Brady on +44 7986 736179.