US judge: Spill claims czar not independent of BP

February 2, 2011 4:16:33 PM PST
A federal judge says the embattled administrator of the $20 billion compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims is not independent from BP and he must stop telling potential claimants that he is.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said in a ruling late Wednesday that he is ordering BP, claims czar Ken Feinberg and any of their agents to change the way they communicate with people seeking money from the fund.

Barbier says Feinberg must clearly disclose in all communications that he is acting for and on behalf of BP in fulfilling its obligations as the responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act.

Barbier stopped short of ordering changes to a release form people who accept final payments from the fund must sign. He asked lawyers to submit additional briefs to the court.