BP takes heat for ads run on Sept. 11

BP is taking heat for running full-page ads in New York and Washington, D.C. newspapers on the anniversary of 9/11 asserting that fraud has plagued the victims claims process following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

The ads that ran Wednesday in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and  The Washington Post describe findings issued last week as part of an independent investigation of the claims process as “shocking” and state they “may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

In a blog post Thursday, Joe Rice, one of the plaintiffs lawyers who helped negotiate last year’s multibillion-dollar settlement, called the timing and placement of the British oil company’s ads “disheartening and outright offensive.”

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“The 9/11 families need our continued support, and BP was unable to put aside their antics for one day out of respect to all of the fallen, the 9/11 survivors and the 9/11 families,” Rice wrote. “BP is not committed to the Gulf. BP is not committed to justice. BP is only committed to BP.”

BP’s chief U.S. spokesman, Geoff Morrell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In his report last week, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who was appointed by a federal judge in New Orleans to conduct the probe of the claims process, said he found there were pervasive conflicts of interest among senior staffers involved in the process, and he recommended that the Justice Department consider criminal charges against several of them.

However, Freeh also said he found that claims administrator Patrick Juneau has acted ethically at all times and that the payment of claims should continue unabated.

Over the last several months, BP has waged an aggressive public relations and legal battle over the way Juneau’s office has been paying claims under the settlement. A federal appeals court ruling over the method for paying business loss claims is pending.