Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

BP spies with its private eye

© PRESS AND JOURNALBP windfall tax
BP, North Sea Headquarters, Dyce, Aberdeen.

BP paid a private corporate intelligence agency to track a variety of climate activists, an investigation by openDemocracy has found.

The oil company tracked Chris Garrard, a classical music composer, and kept tabs on Connor Woodman, a researcher working on BP archives at the University of Warwick.

The company paid Welund to provide updates on Garrard, at least from July 2019 to January 2021.

BP acknowledged that it had hired Welund to openDemocracy. The oil company said that Welund had monitored social media posts to help manage risks.

Welund said it did not hold personal information on Garrard. However, it had sent emails on the activist.

Garrard had filed Freedom of Information requests with the British Museum. Staff at the museum flagged him as an anti BP activist.

This appeared to contravene FOI regulations. Organisations should answer applications without referring to who filed them.

MP David Davis said the British Museum had failed.

“The British Museum is publicly funded and should adhere to the Freedom of Information Act principles,” he said. “If they do not follow public rules, then it must be questioned whether they should get public money.”

BP is a long-time sponsor to the British Museum. It has named a lecture theatre and a number of high-profile exhibitions.

New CCTV

The openDemocracy report also raised allegations about Warwick, saying the university had “collaborated” with BP on a security strategy.

BP’s archive is based on Warwick’s campus. Records show that university staff and BP employees shared updates on Woodman, who was carrying out research on the archive.

The report cited one insider as saying a student had been “asking lots of questions about BP”. The email went on to say: “We will be vigilant – opportunity to use your new CCTV!”

Woodman was involved in groups opposing BP calling for the divestment from fossil fuels. However, there is no accusation that he broke university rules. He maintains his research was wholly legitimate.

Former UK spies formed Welund in 2007, according to reports. The company focuses on safeguarding companies from activists. The company claims to operate under a strict code of ethics and use only open-source intelligence.

An Austrian magazine reported OMV had contracted Welund to provide information on activists. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler ended up raising concerns on the contract.

This is not the first time that links with private intelligence companies have raised eyebrows. In 2012, Wikileaks revealed email archives of Stratfor, showing much of the company’s inner workings and its links to business.

OpenDemocracy will publish a report, Access Denied, setting out its accusations in full on October 25.

Recommended for you

More from Energy Voice

Latest Posts