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Cuadrilla pursues its foe

Shale gas pioneers Cuadrilla have complained to the Charities Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority about the behaviour of Friends of the Earth, whose campaign of lies and disinformation about unconventional gas has been a favourite topic at BH.

The boss of fracking firm Cuadrilla is calling on the Charity Commission to put a stop to the “wilfully misleading” and “scaremongering” claims in fundraising material pumped out by FoE.

The Advertising Standards Authority is also being asked to block the claims.

My money would be on a wholesale rejection of the complaints, no matter how valid they might be. Blind adherence to the green faith is so ingrained in most of our institutions that I don't look to them for the truth or for justice.

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Reader Comments (22)

The Charity Commission is simply a receptacle for (ineffectual, incompetent) quango queens that don't fit anywhere else.

What is abundantly clear is that charity status is being abused on an industrial scale by political activists and perhaps more pertinently public servants in the form of municipal spin off sock puppet outfits like Wildlife Trusts and say The Canal and Rivers Trust and even the great National Trust... Charitable status is being used to avoid taxes - particularly non-domestic rates.

An attack on the charitable status of eco-NGOs and their antics spouting lies and disinformation will be resisted as it threatens to bring others under scrutiny that they regard as wholly unwelcome intrusions into their ability to spend other peoples money as they see fit....

Bit late in the day - Cuadrilla should have had an aggressive rebuttals unit in place at least three years ago....

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Registered Commentertomo

This is just another example of charities becoming involved in political campaigning. I recently came across similar activity at OxFam. Here is a link to my blog post on it - Roger Helmer has written to them. Below is an extract from his newsletter:

The Charity Commission

I recently wrote to the Charity Commission in the following terms. I’ll let you know if/when I get an answer.

Dear (CEO) Ms. Sussex,

OxFam political propaganda in schools

I have recently become aware of the activity which OxFam is undertaking in schools regarding Climate Change. Their programme amounts to blatant political propaganda, and is, it seems to me, in breach of their charitable status. I attach a link to some of the material.

There is of course the well-known canard that "97% of scientists support the IPCC position on Global Warming". This claim has however been comprehensively and effectively rebutted. There is probably a majority of scientists who support that view, but there are very large numbers of highly qualified scientists who dispute the IPCC position, and believe that the effects of atmospheric CO2, and of the (rather small) anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2 have been grossly exaggerated.

There is a serious scientific and political dispute about the underlying theory of climate change, and a separate but related debate about whether the policies adopted by the EU and UK governments are appropriate (even if you accept the IPCC theory). My own party, for which I am the Energy Spokesman, has been prominent in this debate, and I note that the current Conservative government appears to be backing away from its previous commitment to renewables, with subsidy cuts for both wind and solar power.

It seems to me that OxFam's use of charitable funds and of taxpayers’ money to present a wholly one-sided and propagandist position on a contentious and complex scientific and political issue to schoolchildren is a clear breach of their charitable status – and quite possibly in breach of the 1944 Education Act as well, since that Act requires neutrality in the presentation of contentious political issues in schools.

I should be glad of your view on this question.

Yours sincerely.

Oct 14, 2015 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek


Cuadrilla should have had an aggressive rebuttals unit in place at least three years ago....
Agreed. Every time I read a story like this I am reminded of the parable of the unjust steward and the comment "the children of this world are wiser ... than the children of light". Or put another way, the baddies are better at working the system than the goodies.
Obviously it's always been that way!
I don't fancy their chances. Even if the ASA and the Commission do an honest job FoE probably know just how far they can go without getting themselves into bother. I don't think Helmer is going to have much luck either.

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:17 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Cuadrilla should be concentrating on getting in its appeals against the refusals of Lancashire County Council (if it hasn't already done so).

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I complained a couple of years ago to the Advertising standards agency about the Christmas advert showing Father Christmas in a melting north pole. They turned it down using this as the reason "The material that you directed us to appears to be content intended to promote a cause or idea for the charity and isn’t directly connected to the sale or transfer of goods or services or include an appeal for donations. As such it isn’t covered by the Code we administer and we cannot take any action on your complaint this time."

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Manuell

It has been a wonderment to me why outfits like Cuadrilla and other grown up energy providers have sat back and taken flack all this time.

Mike Jackson - to continue with the biblical theme, us of a left foot persuasion have every reason to be ashamed of our hierarchy. Not only the present incumbent in Peters chair.
If you put Cafod, Sciaf, Goal or particularly into a search engine and curser down to their sections on global warming, you will be treated to the most outrageous lies about climate.
This propaganda is being taught to our vulnerable Catholic children in primary and secondary schools. I consider this to be a form of child cruelty.
What to do?

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

Mike J

Mr. Egan obviously skipped PR101 class and has likely not heard of Saul Alinsky.

The media has problems with putting out verified information and reasonableness - but a punch-up always attracts a crowd - as does a bit of comedy and gawd knows the UK anti-frackers are a target rich environment for bizarre twerps and utterly off--the-wall loons.

Frack Nation and Phelim McAleer's attack on Josh Fox hasn't been on the radar - a matter which I suspect is a matter of active behind the scenes skulduggery - since Frack Nation in particular is better then many recent Panoramas and Dispatches.... (I'm partisan there - but I still think that objectively that is true)

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Until the liars scammers and fraudsters are taken to court it will not change.

Oct 14, 2015 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

I truly feel there seems to be a fear of retaliation or at least fighting back against the propaganda against fracking. None of the falsehoods have been proven. There are always issues with everything everywhere, fracking is no exception, but it is the melodrama created by greenalism that's not countered quickly enough, or at least so it seems to me!

Oct 14, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

I think that Quadrilla now feel that they have the Government on their side whereas when the eco-freak Ed Davey was running the show they knew they would get no support. The government pull the strings on charitable status.

Levers of power, folks, levers of power.

Oct 14, 2015 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Alan the Brit

there is a timorous streak in corporate culture. Many senior managers who are quite assertive internally - where the wield arbitrary power - are afraid of engaging robustly with or challenging their detractors in public. Often as with company results and so forth it would be futile exercise - a direct threat to the business is another matter and Egan is very late indeed in mounting a Quixotic attack....

Many of the falsehoods *are* proven - and their repetition at increased volume is something that the eco-loons revel in.

Let's not forget that many (most?) of the deranged activists want no fossil or nuclear at all.... but are happy to use both to heat their sustainable yurts, travel and power their laptops and iPhones....

Ivor - NGO charitable status is way too convenient for many in the public sector to mess with. I can actually not recall anybody getting crimped for "antics unbecoming a charity"....

The BBC news / current affairs hegemony simply rubs salt into the wound - never knowingly missing an opportunity to attack gas exploration and often just mounting orchestrated attack pieces across their regional outlets.

Oct 14, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Registered Commentertomo

The Green mafia are being financially encouraged to pursue legal action to enforce their beliefs.

Unfortunately it seems that formal legal action is going to be required, to defend the right to any alternative belief system.

Some high profile court cases are inevitable, and if individuals from either side have been lying under oath, custodial sentences should follow. The Charity Commissioners may take a relaxed view towards political campaigning and allegations of bias, but fraudulent use of a Charities money, with police iinvestigations and court action, is not something they can brush under the carpet, or keep from the newspapers.

Some charities rely heavily on money bequeathed in Wills. Contesting a Will on the grounds that a particular charity has been engaged in activities inconsistent with it's charitable status, could provoke lively legal debate.

Oct 14, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I welcome Cuadrilla's actions and I agree with Ivor Ward about the reasons for their earlier reticence. To be honest I am amazed that they are still here considering the government lunatics they have had to deal with. Yes they are sitting on massive quantities of shale gas and oil, far more than government estimates. However if you can not exploit your find in any way shape or form, why not walk away until someone more intelligent enters government?
I wrote to DECC about a month ago, I welcomed the new shale focus but asked them what they would do with the gas since they seem to me to be making the same mistakes the USA made. I pointed out that there are no LNG export terminals built or planned and that without at least amending the Climate Change Act, they can not use it for power generation, no reply after 5 weeks and counting ^.^

Oct 14, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Registered CommenterDung

People don't realise how small and tightly-focused E&P companies need to be. Last I looked, Cuadrilla had a total staff of maybe 80 people. You'd get more than that at the average swampy demo, counting the kids and dogs.

They really can't spare many people to counteract every idiotic accusation that the obstructionists and media generate, because those accusations are infinite and unpredictable.

They are unpredictable since they are not based on any factual or accurate and fair historical analysis. They are infinite because at source, they're generated from imagination.

E&P is such a risky (business-wise) venture that personnel are heavily biased to sober accurate analysis. There is very little overlap between their world and the fantastical world of the fracktivists that so captivates the media.

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

patrick healy
Please do not get me started!
I have long since given up on all the supposedly Christian charities and blogged at some length a few years ago on the need for the likes of Oxfam and Christian Aid (CAFOD and Sciaf suffer from the same disease) to pay good money — raised from the general public whether voluntarily or otherwise — to various "climate change officers", by whatever name they go.
I've never succeeded in working out whether the people who run these charities are naive or whether they have been infiltrated or whether they have been infiltrated because they are naive or what.

All the more reason to appoint a good PR firm to do the job for you. Only a Trappist monk could have been unaware that there were going to be troubles ahead with fracking. Surely no businessman in the 21st century believes that because he thinks he is on the side of the angels the assorted loons in the green/anti-capitalist/general nutter camp will agree with him.

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike J

I think that Cuadrilla were entitled to think that the wealth that they were able to offer the government would be more than welcome. However as you may have mentioned on more than one occasion; "The inmates are in charge of the asylum" ^.^

Oct 14, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"...Blind adherence to the green faith is so ingrained in most of our institutions that I don't look to them for the truth or for justice."

So to whom, pray tell, can we look for truth and justice?

"...the present incumbent in Peters chair..." --patrick healy

AKA the incumbetent.

"[i]diotic accusation[s]... are infinite because at source, they're generated from imagination." --kellydown

We are in the midst of what Jung called "a psychic epidemic." "...[M]an himself is the greatest peril to man, just because there is no adequate defense against psychic epidemics, which cause infinitely more devastation than the greatest natural catastrophes." CG Jung, 1944

Oct 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Mike, they have probably observed that no amount of PR will spare you the lunatics' antics or get you favourable media coverage, and decided they might as well save the money.

We live in a world where oil or gas = evil, or perhaps something worse like "right wing", and therefore must always be opposed in all its forms of extraction - but paradoxically it's OK at the point of use because, like, we need it for everything.

Oct 14, 2015 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Looks like Cuadrilla is finally waking up to the idea that shale gas in the UK simply isn't going to happen - then came the blow of oil prices going through the floor. Now they are looking for anything they can find to hang their existence on.

Oct 14, 2015 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

Vernon E

Oh dear oh dear there is just no saving you is there?

Oct 14, 2015 at 7:28 PM | Registered CommenterDung


it's telling I suppose that no legal eagles have gone CFA (no win no fee) / pro bono for the exploration companies unlike the herd of carrion heading in the opposite direction filling their pockets with public money...

Some might call it unprofessional - but - a Michael O'Leary to ratchet up the language would be a welcome relief at the moment - the E&P guys are simply taking an enormous amount of punishment and hardly raising a finger to defend themselves - particularly galling when the ammo/evidence is to hand....

A dyspeptic Malcolm Walker moment with the fractivists would be delicious.

Oct 14, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Registered Commentertomo

" matter how valid they might be..."

It's "may", not might (real condition, as opposed to unreal). That may seem a pointlessly pedantic objection, but it's the sort of hair-splitting on which the Charities Commissioners base their livelihoods.

Oct 15, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

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