Vivienne Westwood has joined an Amnesty International campaign demanding that Shell uses its profits to clean up the Niger Delta.

The designer has called on the public to sign an e-petition to the oil company's chief executive Peter Voser.

Her involvement follows claims from Amnesty that leaks and spills from Shell’s pipelines have devastated the livelihoods of millions of people in the region, impacting air quality and water and food supplies.

Loading article content

"Shell make billions of pounds of profit each year. It is a profit that is being subsidised by the poverty and ill-health of the people of the Niger Delta," she said.

"For decades Shell have ignored repeated calls to clean-up the mess they have left behind. A mess that they are responsible for. A mess that has blighted the livelihoods and health of thousands upon thousands of people.

"Shell need to get around the table and put a proper cost next to the liabilities they are responsible for and fund new structures to ensure the life and health of the people of the Niger Delta are protected once and for all."

The issue of oil spills in the Niger Delta is the subject of a high court case in which the oil company is being sued by some 11,000 inhabitants who say their lives were devastated by spills which destroyed their fishing grounds, caused long-lasting ill health and polluted fresh waters.

SPDC, a Shell-run joint venture between the state oil firm, which holds 55 percent, Shell, with 30 percent, EPNL, with 10 percent and Agip, with 5 percent, admits responsibility for two spills that devastated the Bodo fishing communities in the delta, a labyrinth of creeks and swaps.

Company reports about the total amount of oil spilled differ considerably from the claims of Amnesty and the local community.

A Shell spokeswoman said it was not appropriate to comment while the spill was still the subject of litigation, adding that efforts to clean up had been hampered by insecurity in the Bodo area of the Niger Delta and by oil theft that had caused even more oil to be spilt since.