UK Court of Appeal gives green light for legal challenge against import of toxic French ship, the Clemenceau


For immediate release

Monday 20 October 2008

UK Court of Appeal gives green light for legal challenge against import of toxic French ship, the Clemenceau.

The Court of Appeal has reversed an earlier decision by the High Court and allowed Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) to challenge the importation of a toxic French aircraft carrier (the Clemenceau) into the United Kingdom.

On 16 October 2008 the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Laws granted Jean Kennedy (of the Friends of Hartlepool group) permission to apply for judicial review and ordered the full hearing to take place in the Court of Appeal because of the importance of the issues in this case.

Although the date for the hearing has yet to be set, it is expected that the toxic aircraft carrier will now remain in France until the Court has decided the case.

Jean Kennedy, the Appellant in this legal action, said today:

“We are very satisfied with this result. Friends of Hartlepool have always maintained that the HSE’s decision to allow the importation of the Clemenceau and it’s carcinogenic cargo is unlawful. By overturning the earlier High Court decision and allowing us to put these arguments in full to the Court of Appeal, this Order vindicates our approach”.

Gavin Sullivan, the solicitor at PIL representing Jean Kennedy, said:

“We have asked Able UK to undertake not to take any steps to import this ship into Hartlepool until the Court has taken it’s decision. Obviously, should Able seek to ignore this Order and try and bring this ship from France regardless, we will consider seeking directions from the Court to prevent them from doing so”.

Iris Ryder, a member of the Friends of Hartlepool group, said today:

“This is a fantastic result for the people of Hartlepool and takes us one step closer to preventing this toxic waste from being imported and dumped in our community. Able UK proposes to dismantle and dispose of this toxic vessel for a price of around 10% of that proposed by it’s European competitors. People and groups on both sides of the Channel are rightly asking serious questions about the safety of Able’s proposals. How can they seriously claim to be able to undertake the biggest ship dismantling project ever undertaken in Europe and safely remove the all of the estimated 760 tonnes of asbestos 330 tonnes of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) aboard the vessel for the same price it costs to safely remove asbestos from a small building?”

The Clemenceau - which has been the source of embarrassment for the French government after it was forced to abandon previous plans to illegally dump the vessel in India – is currently docked off the port of Brest in France. French Shipworker groups including Mor Glaz and other NGOs opposed to the export of the ship held a press conference last Friday to renew their calls for the French government to safely dispose of their own toxic ships and vow support for the Friends of Hartlepool legal challenge and campaign.

For further information about the case please contact:

Gavin Sullivan, Public Interest Lawyers: 0121 515 5069; or

Jean Kennedy, Friends of Hartlepool: 01429 295 039

Public Interest Lawyers was established in 1999. Since its formation the practice has taken on some of the most significant public law cases of recent times. The practice focuses on the following domestic areas: Public, Human Rights, Environmental, Planning and Urban Regeneration Law. Internationally, we practise Public, Human Rights, Humanitarian and Environmental Law.

For more information about PIL go to:


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