A billionaire businessman accused of “bully boy tactics” over fracking has been given a knighthood in the queen’s birthday honours.
Jim Ratcliffe, founder, CEO, and chair of chemical company Ineos was given the honour [pdf,p3] for ‘services to business and investment’. According to website Drill or Drop, “the Ineos group’s shale gas company, Ineos Upstream, holds more exploration licences than any other oil and gas company onshore in the UK”.
The Ineos boss can now call himself Sir Jim Ratcliffe:
How to address a knight: letter – Dear Sir John; envelope – Sir John Smith; conversation – Sir John. http://t.co/pV5dgMQG
— Debrett's (@Debretts) September 21, 2011
But Ratcliffe’s elevation has not gone down well with some:
But Ratcliffe made trade unionists take a pay cut and lose their pension at Grangemouth. Surely worth a #torygong
— David (@DebtSupervisor) June 9, 2018
— Alison Hume (@spartiscribe) June 9, 2018
— Laura McFarlane (@lauramcfarlane) June 9, 2018
@KensingtonRoyal @RoyalFamily Really? This man is suing our @nationaltrust and the @scotgov His company #ineos is an unsustainable ticking timebomb in our view. …oh and he wants to take a massive risk by #fracking the north #ineosvthepeople https://t.co/vFXBuEgQVe
— Frack Free East Yorkshire (@FrackFreeEY) June 9, 2018
Suing our institutions
These are just a few of the reasons why Ratcliffe’s knighthood has not been universally celebrated:
- Ineos recently launched a case against the Scottish government claiming that Scotland’s ban on fracking breaches its human rights.
- Ineos is suing the National Trust over its refusal to allow access for test drilling in Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.
- It also took out a wide-ranging interim injunction against anti-fracking protesters in July 2017. The injunction covers eight named locations, as well as Ineos offices and supply chain routes, depots and operations. It is being challenged at the Court of Appeal.
- In 2013, union members at Ineos’ Grangemouth refinery threatened to strike over the suspension of a union representative. The strike was called off, but Ratcliffe locked workers out of the plant and threatened to close it down. Workers were told that unless they accepted cuts to their terms and conditions and a three-year ban on strikes, they would lose their jobs.
- In 2016, Ineos announced that it was stopping tea breaks at its Grangemouth plant because they led to “high levels of unproductive time”.
Guy Shrubsole, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, has said in relation to Ineos suing the National Trust:
A huge fracking firm suing the National Trust to test for shale gas within the historic Sherwood Forest area will make people wonder what is sacred anymore. The spirit of Robin Hood will be bridling at these bully-boy tactics. INEOS’ fracking activities threaten to industrialise our green and pleasant land and people everywhere will be horrified.
And anti-fracking group Frack Free United told The Canary:
Jim Ratcliffe moved to Switzerland in order to avoid paying a £100M tax bill. It is astounding that this tax-dodging billionaire is being honoured with a knighthood. If Jim Ratcliffe is allowed to frack vast areas of Yorkshire to provide feedstock to make yet more plastic, he will do more damage to the countryside and the oceans than perhaps anyone else in history, calling into question the whole honours system.
If you have spent your life building Ineos and you find yourself in a crisis you are going to do anything you can to save what you have been building.
Jim Ratcliffe has got his gong and we may now call him ‘Sir’. But a knighthood is unlikely to make his brand of industrial relations and stifling of dissent any more popular with Britons.
– Read other articles from The Canary on fracking.
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Featured image via Friends of the Earth Scotland/Flickr