A Strange Ally

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

05 February 2016


Almost everyone involved in shipping will by now have heard of the disgraceful two year jail sentence given by Spain’s Supreme Court to Apostolos Mangouras the master of the ill-fated tanker Prestige. Sadly for our industry very few outside of it will have. Recently a new campaign to promote the benefits of shipping to a wider world has been proposed and that is a laudable effort but where is the wider defence of captain Mangouras? A search for his name in the News section of Google brings up a fair number of results but almost all of them from our own industry press and very little from other sources. There are some, mostly by local Spanish and French TV and newspapers but these seem to be brief pieces more concerned with reporting that compensation claims can now be pursued rather than criticising the Spanish government’s hounding of a seafarer already found not guilty of the crimes by a lower court. In almost none of the reports was there any mention that the official that refused refuge for the ship went on to become Spain’s Prime Minister. Perhaps the strangest part of the reporting was that the very few that did mention Mariano Rajoy’s role in the loss of the ship and the resulting pollution did so only because they were quoting Greenpeace’s reaction to the court’s decision, which incidentally was generally supportive of Mangouras and critical of the Spanish Government of the day. Many in shipping would consider themselves as generally opposed to Greenpeace and its dangerous publicity stunts but on this occasion at least they should applaud the fact that because of Greenpeace at least some outside of shipping might understand that the master has been made a scapegoat for the actions of politicians.