Victory for French Victims' Group 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On March 3, 2009, a lawsuit mounted by asbestos stakeholders against ANDEVA, the French Asbestos Victims' Organization, collapsed.1 As proceedings were due to commence in Paris for “public criminal libel of a private individual,” the President of the 17th Criminal Court received a letter from the lawyer representing the Chrysotile Institute (CI) which signalled his client's decision to withdraw. While the suddenness of the CI's surrender was something of a surprise, ANDEVA's victory was never in doubt according to Marc Hindry, one of the accused:

“The Chrysotile Institute sued us2 for defamation after reading a strongly documented paper mainly denouncing the politics of the Canadian Government but also pointing out the Asbestos Institute (recently rebaptised the Chrysotile Institute) role…

After being dragged in front of a police officer, then in front of a judge (July 2008), at the end of January (2009) I was summoned to produce within 10 days the evidence I possessed and the list of witnesses I wished to call.

Obviously the list of around sixty documents and the long list of witnesses scared away the Chrysotile Institute which announced its withdrawal from the case on the day the first audience was scheduled. The pretences invoked by the Chrysotile Institute's lawyer bordered on the ridiculous. He stated that the defense was trying to hold a trial of asbestos and that his client was not willing to participate in the debate.

I interpret the CI's action as confirmation that the claims made against them on the Andeva website were accurate. Andeva will certainly continue denouncing the criminal attitude of the Canadian government and the deeds of the Chrysotile Institute and campaigning for a worldwide ban of asbestos.”

The list of Andeva's defense witnesses included international medical, scientific, environmental and political experts on asbestos such as:

  • Dr. David Egilman, Department of Community Health, Brown University, U.S./ Editor of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health;
  • Dr. Barry Castleman, author of Asbestos: Legal and Medical Aspects, Environmental Consultant, U.S;
  • Member of Parliament Pat Martin, Canada;
  • Laurent Vogel, Director of the Department of Health and Safety, European Trade Union Institute, Belgium;
  • Kathleen Ruff, Volunteer Co-ordinator Rotterdam Convention Alliance, an international alliance of public health groups, and Human Rights Activist, Canada;
  • Dr. Marcel Goldberg, Epidemiologist, co-author of the INSERM asbestos report, France;
  • Patrick Roy, Deputy of the French Parliament and President of the Asbestos Group which issued the French Parliament's landmark Asbestos Report
  • Laurent Lasfargues, Professor of Occupational Medicine and Chief of the Department of Occupational Health, French Agency for Public and Environmental Health;3
  • Dr. Claude Got, Public Health specialist, author of French Asbestos Report (1998), France;

An ANDEVA press release issued on March 3, 2009, reiterated the original accusations against the Chrysotile Institute and speculated that the decision to drop the libel charges were made when “the Canadians understood – albeit a bit late – they could lose this trial.”4 Commenting on the outcome of the case, Laurent Vogel from the European Trade Union Institute said:

“The Chrysotile Institute finally realised that the trial could prove that it is just a tool of disinformation funded by the Canadian government which exists solely for one purpose: to promote the asbestos trade.the industry's manipulation of science is becoming more and more transparent. The European Trade Union Institute applauds the stance taken by ANDEVA and will continue to work with ANDEVA and other groups to promote a global ban of asbestos.”

March 13, 2009


1 Kazan-Allen L. Canada – How Could You? October 15, 2008. IBAS website:
French asbestos victim group hauled before court by Canadian asbestos lobby. July 8, 2008.

2 Those sued were: Francois Desriaux, ANDEVA's former President, and Marc Hindry, the author of the article: The Canadian Asbestos Dossier: A Dying and Dead Industry [Dossier – L'Amiante au Canada Une Industrie Meutriere et Moribonde]. See: ANDEVA Bulletin, October 2007, pages 19-22.

3 AFSSET: Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire de l'environmental et du travail

4 ANDEVA Press Release: Asbestos: Canadians Give Up their Libel Suit against Two ANDEVA Activists. March 3, 2009



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