Asbestos Spy Infiltrates Groups Pursuing Ban

Rob Moore said he was a journalist traveling the world in order to film a documentary about the dangers of asbestos and ongoing corruption in the industry.

In reality, Moore was working as a corporate spy, infiltrating anti-asbestos groups in order to provide intelligence to that same industry he claimed to be fighting.

He gathered information about groups in several countries that are working to ban asbestos – their goals, funding, and legal strategies – for an unnamed corporate client with ties to asbestos.

For four years, he worked as a spy for K2, an intelligence firm in the UK, contacting many officers, leaders, and advocates worldwide. Many top activists in the anti-asbestos movement agreed to meet with him, and most felt he seemed legitimate in his claims, stating that Moore’s journalism background seemed valid and reputable.

They now feel personally betrayed and many of them have joined a civil suit filed against Moore, K2, and the unnamed asbestos client.

Linda Reinstein, the founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, met with Moore and invited him to their annual conference twice, even paying $1,000 towards his flight.

He also contacted Laura Lozanski, an anti-asbestos advocate and the health and safety officer for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, to meet at her office, even producing a link to a YouTube clip of a film he’d supposedly made for the World Health Organization about asbestos victims in India.

Both of these women say that they aren’t sure what Moore would’ve gained from spying on their organizations. Lozanski said,

“It doesn’t really make sense. We’re not hiding anything, and everybody knows what we’re doing.”

However, a witness in the civil suit states that Moore was likely trying to dig up information that would discredit the anti-asbestos associations by proving they were funded by people with a financial interest in their goals – like lawyers or those marketing asbestos substitutes.

The plaintiffs in the suit are seeking damages for breach of confidence and misuse of private information.

Moore has revealed that some of his “key areas of focus” were the plans of anti-asbestos groups in Canada, India, and Thailand. He was paid over £460,000 for this four-year intelligence campaign against the worldwide anti-asbestos movement.

Laurie Kazan Allen, the coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, was also approached by Moore on the premise of making a documentary, and through her, he made several more contacts with anti-asbestos activists internationally. He even persuaded her to give him over £6,000, claiming that he had no income of his own.

In the past, many people involved in the movement to ban asbestos – activists, doctors, and lawyers alike – have accused the asbestos industry of bribing government officers and creating misinformation campaigns. They claim that the industry is known for vilifying, harassing, and intimidating critics of asbestos.

In fact, the High Court previously granted Moore himself anonymity, temporarily banning his name from publication after hearing that the spy was worried about “intimidatory behavior” by the asbestos industry.

The British High Court has recently ruled that the identity of the unnamed client must be revealed.

Rachel Sasser

Author

Rachel Sasser is a lawyer, blogger, and freelance writer with an interest in the international politics of asbestos. She believes that the United States has a lot to learn about public health priorities from the way that other countries have handled their own asbestos issues and mesothelioma victims. She has a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and practiced law in North Carolina.