Fiennes, other celebs push corporate ethics

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LONDON -- Ralph Fiennes joined a host of celebrities Tuesday in signing an open letter calling for legislation to force Britain's corporations to be more accountable for their impact on the world's poorest communities.

The letter -- organized by international development charity ActionAid and published in The Guardian newspaper -- urged members of Britain's Parliament currently debating the Companies Bill to include amendments that would make it legally binding for corporations to document their actions around the world.

"This week you have a once-in-lifetime chance to make UK companies take more responsibility for their impact on poor communities in developing countries," the letter said.

Lawmakers are to debate the bill this week before a final vote Thursday.

The letter notes cases concerning food retailer Tescos workers rights records on fruit farms in South Africa, as well as a recent report that detailed alleged environmental and human rights abuses by a subsidiary of mining giant Anglo-American at their operation in Ghana.

"All over the world we hear of cases where U.K. companies have harmed local communities," said Julian Oram, head of trade and corporations at ActionAid. "We can either keep looking at these as they arise, or MPs (lawmakers) can give companies some basic legal standards. The ball is in their court."

Other signatories to the letter included actor Joanna Lumley, musician Thom Yorke of Radiohead, chef Gordon Ramsey and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick.
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