Although the health risks associated with exposure to asbestos have been known for generations, and its use has been banned in the UK and EU since 1999, use of the mineral known as chrysotile – or white asbestos – is still permitted in most countries. Major producers include Russia, China, Brazil and Kazakhstan, and key importers include Thailand and Vietnam. A worldwide network of activists, lawyers and physicians who are campaigning for a complete ban on the export of chrysotile have accused the asbestos industry of running misinformation campaigns and bribing government officials, and say it harasses, vilifies and intimidates its critics. \
A leading corporate intelligence firm, K2 Intelligence Ltd, infiltrated the worldwide campaign to ban asbestos in a sophisticated and long-running espionage campaign, the high court in London has heard. Over a period of four years, the court was told, a spy working for K2 Intelligence Ltd masqueraded as a sympathetic documentary maker in order to gather a mass of sensitive material about the leading figures in the campaign, their methods, funding and future plans. K2 was, in turn, passing the information to its client, an as yet unnamed corporation based outside the UK that has interests in the asbestos industry. The court ordered K2 to identify its client, although the name of the spy – who was paid in excess of £460,000 in salary and expenses – remains a secret. In a witness statement to the court, the spy – currently anonymised as DNT, by order of the high court – said K2 had paid him £336,015 and he had received £130,430 in expenses.
K2 was founded by Jules Kroll, a leading figure in the corporate intelligence industry, and is run by his son and co-founder, Jeremy.