UK MPs ask privacy watchdog to investigate BP for “political espionage”
MPs called for an investigation into BP’s political espionage, after an openDemocracy investigation found that the oil giant had spent years monitoring peaceful climate activists.
BP hired a private intelligence firm set up by a former MI6 agent to keep tabs on critics. He also shared information with public institutions, including the British Museum and the University of Warwick, where an activist was targeted with “very low-key security”.
Member of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, described the revelations as a “deeply troubling case of political espionage” and urged the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) to “investigate urgently”.
Labor MP Matthew Pennycook, shadow minister for climate change, said today: ‘BP must stop funding climate monitoring activities and start focusing all of its efforts on what it needs to do more as a business to fully comply with the Paris Agreement.
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And Liberal Democrat climate spokesperson Wera Hobhouse told openDemocracy that BP’s actions were “shocking and intrusive.”
“People have the right to protest peacefully and it is essential that fossil fuel companies are held to account,” she added.
The company’s targets include Chris Garrard, a classical music composer with a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Garrard works with the Art Not Oil group, campaigning against decades of BP sponsorship of the British Museum.
For several years, BP has been collecting personal information about Garrard, including a CCTV image of him waiting at a London train station in 2015, when he attended the oil giant’s annual general meeting.