Of the thousands of bless you and f— you messages that arrived at The Guardian papers after we broke the Florida vote swindle story in November 2000, none ruffled my editors’ English reserve but one: a letter demanding we retract the article or else. It was from Carter-Ruck, a law firm with the reputation as the piranhas of England’s libel bar, a favorite of foreign millionaires unhappy about their press. Their letter stated they represented Barrick Corporation — a Canadian-American gold-mining operation that employed George Bush Sr.
Barrick particularly did not like my mention of the stomach-churning evidence that Sutton Resources, a Barrick subsidiary, had buried alive as many as fifty gold miners in Tanzania in August 1996, prior to Barrick’s purchase of Sutton in 1999.
What set their complaint apart from the scores of others we receive from corporations bitching and moaning about my exposes was Barrick’s extraordinary demand. They did not want their denial printed (I’d done that), nor their evidence the story was wrong (I would do that too, if they would provide it). They demanded my paper apologize and pay a tiny fortune for simply mentioning the allegations first reported by Amnesty International. And even that would not be enough. Barrick also demanded we print a statement vowing that my paper had confirmed that no one was killed at the Tanzanian site. Now, I would have been more than happy to confirm that — if I had evidence to that effect. The evidence was, in so many words, “We are billionaires–and you aren’t.”