Talks held on ethics

BP is in talks with Pirc about revising its corporate responsibility and environmental policies in the light of Shell's publication of a revised statement of business principles at its annual meeting last month, writes Richard Halstead.

According to Pirc director Anne Simpson, the aim is to get similar pledges from BP over its involvement in the Colombian oil fields. "The situation is different to Shell in Nigeria, but the issues are the same," said Ms Simpson. "We want BP to publish a code of responsibility and accept external verification."

Last year the company was lambasted in the European Parliament by Richard Howitt, the Labour MEP for Essex South, who read from a leaked Human Rights Commission report detailing eyewitness accounts of poisoned rivers, sick livestock and polluted fields.

Mr Howitt said the report alleged that a strike against BP in the town of Copiagua in March last year was forcibly ended by troops. "I was also told of a dawn raid by the army against demonstrators, leading to three killings," he said.