September 10, 2010 | Mark Paradies

Wall Street Journal Questions Independence of BP Deepwater Horizon Internal Investigation

Here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal:

LONDON—BP PLC, which billed its Deepwater Horizon inquiry as an independent look at the disaster, said its lawyers were allowed to “review” the long-awaited report before it was published.

A BP spokesman said its lawyers provided “legal advice and counsel to the [investigative] team,”‘but wouldn’t elaborate on what exactly that entailed. He also declined to characterize the nature of the review, and what changes, if any, the lawyers made to BP’s 193-page report on the April accident that triggered the worst U.S. offshore oil spill. But he said the BP lawyers “were walled off from the rest of the company.’

The spokesman also said some ‘internal and external’ lawyers for BP worked with investigators ‘in order to interact with lawyers for other companies to obtain evidence for the investigation,’ and to ‘assist in the preservation of evidence for litigation and ongoing investigations.‘”

The disclosure raises questions about the extent of the independence of BP’s report, which was released Wednesday and assigned much of the blame for the accident to BP’s contractors, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. The U.K. oil giant has said its four-month investigation on the causes of the accident, which killed 11 workers, was carried out without interference from senior management.

The rest of the story is available at:

How much independence can an internal investigation have? Wouldn’t some legal review be expected? After all, the head of safety for BP led the investigation … How independent is that?

Also, the scope of the investigation was limited to the immediate causes of the accident and was not allowed to look into the longer term management causes.

What do you think? Could you expect an independent investigation from BP? Did the lawyer involvement compromise the investigation? Leave a comment here and let me know.

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