Press release - 26 January 2013
Baby Milk Action, which coordinates a boycott of Nestlé over its aggressive marketing of baby milks, has just learned that Nestlé has been ordered by a Swiss court to pay damages and costs to members of Attac Switzerland, after infiltrating 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 the campaigners.
For a press release from Attac Switzerland - click here.
For a news report in French, see:
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.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
"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.
"It comes as no surprise to learn Nestlé is using underhand methods such as this spying operation, given its history and its ongoing practices. At present it is leading an attempt to replace strong baby milk marketing regulations in the Philippines, which includes an attempt to economically blackmail the country - not the first time it has threatened governments.
"Nestlé had to apologise when the current Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, was Chief Executive after letters were obtained from government officals under false pretences and misrepresented by Mr Brabeck as 'official verification' that the company abides by baby milk marketing requirements.
"When a former employee in Pakistan exposed practices including bribing of doctors, he said he was threatened, and when he went public, Nestlé accused him of trying to blackmail the company. Subsequently, Nestlé organised a visit to Pakistan by a member of the House of Lords, then took him on as a paid consultant two years after he attacked the whistleblower, claiming to have conducted an independent investigation.
"Similarly, Nestlé attacked a Brazilian water campaigner with demonstrably untrue claims when he was billed to attend an event we organised in 2006. Through the spying court case, the campaigner has found out Nestlé assembled a large amount of personal information about him.
"We have long memories. The list of Nestlé's shameful practices as it puts its own profits first shows the same arrogant pattern of behaviour, so this latest revelation is shocking, but not surprising."
For further details of the above examples see:
It was recently reported by Reuters that Nestlé has set up a special centre in Switzerland to monitor internet communications so that it can intervene when people mention the company or issues of interest. See:
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. See:
For the background to the spying story, including an interview with one of the spying victims, see:
For another example of Nestlé's dirty tricks and how it puts pressure on governments see:
Further information will be available shortly.
For comment contact Mike Brady on +44 7986 736179.