The action takes a highly unusual legal approach, alleging that Global Witness has refused to comply with a decision of the UK information commissioner. The claim has been lodged on behalf of BSG Resources (BSGR), an international mining group run by the Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz. It complains that BSGR has been the subject of "a sustained, negative publicity campaign by Global Witness." Steinmetz's wealth is estimated to be worth more than $4bn (£2.6bn). The claim has been served in his name and those of three others associated with BSGR, which is based in St Peter Port, Guernsey. The claimants submitted subject access requests to Global Witness under the Data Protection Act during 2012 and 2013, seeking details of personal data about Steinmetz and his colleagues held by Global Witness.
Dag Cramer, CEO of Onyx Financial Advisers, an adviser to BSGR and one of the others who have brought the action, said:
"Global Witness's refusal to tell us what personal data it has on us is a breach of the law and is deeply discomfiting to me and my fellow claimants.”
Global Witness, which was founded in 1993, has dismissed the legal action as an attempt to stifle journalism and investigations carried out in the public interest.
Global Witness, which campaigns against abuses in the exploitation of natural resources around the world, said in response to the claim: "Global Witness intends to robustly defend its position and regards the claim as an attempt to stifle journalism in the public interest. Global Witness has been investigating and reporting for over a year on how BSGR obtained rights to one of the world's largest iron ore deposits, the Simandou iron ore mine in Guinea. We have highlighted serious corruption concerns surrounding the deal, explaining in detail the reasons for our findings and asking questions of the companies concerned at every stage. BSGR still has not explained important aspects of its Simandou deal, notably the ownership of secretive companies associated with it. Rather than seeking to bully those raising legitimate concerns, BSGR should address these matters directly."
Socialist Banner reported the background to the mining corruption here .