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Archive for August 23rd, 2011

You’ll remember I wrote this for the Sunday Express earlier this month. It was followed up by the Times and the Telegraph; it also caused outrage in India.

Seb Coe’s decision to allow Dow Chemical to try and detoxify its brand by sponsoring the 2012 stadium doesn’t exactly sit right with his boasts about leaving a legacy in east London free of contamination. Other than Coe, Boris Johnson and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson (who professed himself “delighted” at this month’s announcement), I don’t know one person who is happy with Dow’s involvement.

Since that original article, I’ve learnt that Dow’s wrap is not purely for decorative purposes: it will also act as a windshield against gusts blowing into the main arena that will hinder potential world records. It’s all for PR therefore.

Are we really saying that we couldn’t find a few million quid to fund our own unbranded wrap?

At the weekend, Labour’s Keith Vaz, who had just returned from India, offered his own thoughts in the Sunday Express here. This one is going to run.

By Ted Jeory, Whitehall Editor

A CAMPAIGN is mounting to force David Cameron to intervene in a row over a controversial sponsorship of London’s Olympic stadium.

Senior MP Keith Vaz has expressed “amazement” at a decision by Games boss Lord Coe to ask Dow Chemical to fund a £7million fabric wrapping bearing the company’s symbol that will adorn the stadium next year.

He has told Dow that if it has money to spare it should be donated to the victims of the Bhopal chemical plant.

Dow is the owner of Union Carbide, which operated the plant in India which suffered a catastrophic gas leak in 1984. Campaigners claim that and groundwater pollution before and after has killed up to 25,000 people. Although Dow says it didn’t own Union Carbide until 2001 and that a “full and final” settlement of $470million (£285million) was agreed with India in 1989, campaigners say the plant’s pollution causes babies to be born maimed to this day.

A Sunday Express article two weeks ago has provoked fury in India where politicians and Olympians have even called for a boycott of the London Games. Many highlight the irony of Lord Coe’s boast to have cleaned up a contaminated site in east London, only to help Dow detoxify its legacies now.

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal has written to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging him to register an official protest with David Cameron to say that Dow is a “fugitive from justice”.

Dow remains the subject of a number of civil and criminal court actions in India. Last year, the Indian government filed its own court case asking Dow for another $1.1billion.

In their letter to Mr Singh, the campaigners write: “We have been waiting for you to register a strong objection to the UK Government.”

Labour MP Mr Vaz said: “Dow should honour the $1.1billion commitment if they feel they have enough to pay for the Olympics.”

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