On Tuesday 23rd June 2015, Vivienne Westwood accompanied Talk Fracking to the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar on “Shale gas in the UK: regulation, addressing challenges, and energy security”, at Glaziers Hall, London .
We hoped to confront Chair of the Task Force on Shale Gas and ex-head of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, who was due to deliver a keynote address on behalf of his Task Force on Shale Gas . It’s curious that the supposedly impartial Lord Chris Smith was puffing up fracking at this shale industry conference, on the same day that Lancashire County Council were due to decide whether or not to green light two of the biggest fracking tests ever contemplated in the UK .
We wrote to Chris Smith three months ago  asking that he honour his promise of transparency  by publishing details of all communications and correspondence from initial meetings with any PR companies, prior to and since the establishment of the Task Force on Shale Gas. Chris and the Task Force failed to respond to our letter, so for three hours, we waited for him to turn up at Glaziers Hall for a face-to-face chat.
We were joined by Kye Gbangbola, the father of Zane Gbangbola, a seven-year-old boy who was tragically killed 16 months ago during floods in Surrey that caused toxic gases from a nearby landfill site to consume their home. Both Kye and Zane suffered cardiac arrest. Zane died later in hospital, while his father Kye remains paralysed from the waist down . At the time of this incident, Chris Smith was Chair of the Environment Agency but he failed to investigate the shady circumstances surrounding Zane’s death. Meanwhile, there is evidence that the Environment Agency were fully aware of the toxic landfill and had protected their own neighbouring property with a gas proof membrane.
Kye told us, “We are begging for answers and transparency about the death of our son. 16 months since Zane’s death, we still have no death certificate, just walls of silence from the authorities. We hope to ask Lord Smith why our beautiful boy had to die through the failure of those whose duty it was to protect him? It’s time for the truth to be revealed and for Chris Smith to come clean about what he knows about the circumstances surrounding Zane’s death.” Last week, Russell Brand came out in support of the ‘Truth About Zane’ campaign in the latest episode of his web series “The Trews” .
Talk Fracking collaborated with Vivienne Westwood’s Climate Revolution for their “Politicians Are Criminals” campaign , and we accused Lord Chris Smith of being guilty of the following criminal charges:
1. Corporate Manslaughter: Whilst head of the Environment Agency, willful failure to comply with the law and test land suspected as being contaminated, leading to the death of 7-year-old Zane Gbangbola .
2. Recklessly Causing Harm: He mis-directed the public with regard to a major hazardous incident that paralyzed Kye Gbangbola .
3. Breach of Duty of Care: He failed to tell the British public the truth about landfill or fulfill his required duty of care, covering up the truth about Zane’s death and failing to protect the local community in Thameside, Surrey from the dangers of poisonous landfill .
4. Conspiracy: Collusion with the fracking industry to water down environmental regulation. He neglected his responsibility to protect the environment when agreeing to intervene with Lancashire County Council over Cuadrilla’s planning permission and conspired to halve the consultation time for a fracking waste permit .
5. Deception & Fraud: Leading the Task Force on Shale Gas, an industry funded PR exercise, to mislead the public about the detrimental dangers of fracking, including cancer and birth defects .
By running away, Chris Smith is doing his very best to evade our line of enquiry and these very serious allegations of deception, but the British public deserve answers and we won’t just go away. Lord Smith is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and his The Task Force on Shale Gas is nothing more than an industry funded ‘astroturf’ PR exercise, masterminded by Edelman PR . Founder of Talk Fracking , Joseph Corre said “make no mistake, this man is guilty of fraud. There’s no independence here. It’s a PR ruse.”
Vivienne Westwood added, “This is the man, as Chair of the Environment Agency, that failed to investigate the shady circumstances surrounding the death of 7-year-old Zane. Chris Smith has convinced the government to rely on the findings of so-called independent reports into fracking, funded by the fracking industry.”
Please sign this petition to help Zane’s grieving parents get justice for the death of their son: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/call-for-a-public-debate-into-the-death-of-7-year-old-zane
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