Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Sledgehammer Award for silencing criticism goes to....

Tesco, for its US$34 million lawsuit against three Thai journalists critical of the British retailer’s expansion plans. Two of the cases are in final mediation, whilst the third criminal charge could still result in a lengthy jail sentence.

Trying to silence debate is certainly not the way to win the hearts and minds of consumers. These multi-million dollar lawsuits are a ludicrous overreaction by Tesco and will do little more than further harm the retailer’s reputation in Thailand and around the world.

1 comment:

  1. Tesco certainly don't take kindly to criticism from the media. The Guardian newspaper in the UK found itself the subject of a libel suit after claiming that Tesco was avoiding £1billion in tax through the use of offshore havens.

    After rejecting the offer of meeting the paper to discuss the allegations, Tesco instead took the decision to sue for damages.

    It is very much in the public interest to know how mega corporations conduct their tax affairs. This public accountability is put under threat when irresponsible companies like Tesco respond to any scrutiny by aggressively pursuing individual journalists and newspapers in the courts.

    As British journalist Roy Greenslade recently put it: 'Papers exist not only to hold governments to account but big business too. Tesco should think again.'

    In the end, Tesco was successful in it's case against The Guardian, though this was down to certain factual errors in the paper's reporting. The main accusation, that Tesco was deliberately avoiding millions of pounds in UK taxes through dodgy 'overseas ventures', was never found to be false.

    When are we going to see the Justice system being as energetic at holding companies to account as they are at facilitating pointless libel proceedings?