It all began with a couple of voicemail messages from Lia Weber, representing a company called “Red Roof Events.”

“She was very, very insistent,” says Jamie Simpson, an environmental lawyer with Juniper Law in Halifax. “She was very keen to talk to me and to solicit my interest in giving a presentation for some sort of virtual environmental conference. I didn’t reply right away. I was quite busy, so I didn’t respond.“

But then came another voicemail and then an email, Simpson tells the Halifax Examiner.

Lia Weber, identified in her email signature as “Executive Assitant” [sic] for Red Roof Events, sent this to Simpson on June 2, 2020:  

I’m contacting you on behalf of Mr. Alkinous Theodotou, CEO at Red Roof Events a global leading speakers agency. I’m reaching out to you as a potential speaker at a private online conference regarding environmental challenges of current times. One of our clients has decided to harness recent increased awareness regarding environmental issues in order to initiate a comparative conference where representatives from different countries will talk about challenges and trends in environmental and sustainability issues and their effects on economic and public health. To this end, we are seeking experts with grassroots experience in successful environmental campaigns from around the globe to participate in the event.

We came across your Ted talk about the right to live in a healthy environment which included incorporating suggestions for the future. Given the combination of your practical and academic experience in environmental law, we believe your input can highly contribute our conference initiative. If this is of interest to you, I will be happy to schedule a call with Mr. Theodotou to explain more and explore a potential collaboration.  

Weber’s email signature provided a phone number (+35 220 880 744), an email (, and a website (

Simpson says at that point, he figured these people “really wanted to chat” with him, so he finally sent off a quick reply.

In 2016, before he had become an environmental lawyer and when he was still executive director of the East Coast Law Association (ECELAW), Simpson had given a TEDx talk at Dalhousie University, where he also teaches environmental law.

Simpson says it is not unusual for him to get invitations to speak at public events. As an environmental lawyer, he has handled high-profile cases in Nova Scotia, including taking on the Nova Scotia government over the Endangered Species Act and its delisting of Owl’s Head from the Parks and Protected Areas plan. Simpson is also the author of three books on the Acadian forest, and the winner of several conservation and environmental awards.

Related: ‘Nature won.’ Supreme Court ruling orders province to meet the obligations of the Endangered Species Act.  

So the inquiry from Red Roof seemed, at this point, “reasonable enough” and like “a legitimate request,” Simpson says.

For the next week, via email, Weber and Simpson worked out a time that would be convenient for “Mr. Theodotou” to speak on Skype.

Weber declined Simpson’s suggestion that they speak on the phone or on Zoom, writing, “Unfortunately we do not work with Zoom so we prefer Skype.”

So they had a Skype call.

Simpson understood that Theodotou was in Luxembourg.

As Simpson recalls it, “It was just him [Alkinous Theodotou] with what looked like a white sheet behind him.”

“I thought it was a little strange,” he says. “But then I thought maybe his office is messy or something and he wanted a clean backdrop for the meeting and no distractions.”

“He was asking me what my work had been in recent months,” Simpson tells the Examiner in an interview.

Theodotou said he wanted Simpson to give an hour-long presentation at an international environmental conference, and he asked him to send a list of topics he’d been working on.

“He did mention that he knew I’d been involved in the Northern Pulp environmental assessment,” says Simpson. “And I said, ‘yes, that’s one.”

Simpson then emailed this list of issues he had been involved in, any of which he could speak about:

1. The recent court victory in Nova Scotia for species at risk and citizens’ responsibility (duty) to hold government to account to fulfill legal obligations. (a news piece about the court case is here)

2. Environmental rights in Nova Scotia and Canada, with the Harrietsfield water contamination story.  (similar to other talks I’ve given on this subject)

3. The story of Northern Pulp and Boat Harbour: fishing organizations and Indigenous communities working together.

In 2019, when Nova Scotia Environment was doing an environmental assessment of Northern Pulp’s proposed replacement effluent treatment facility for Boat Harbour, three fishers’ groups in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island that were concerned about pulp effluent going into the Northumberland Strait engaged Simpson to help them develop their submissions for the environmental assessment process.

At a press conference in Pictou in November 2019, groups opposed to the Northern Pulp proposed effluent treatment facility answered media questions about the project. Left to right: Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan, fisherman Colton Cameron, environmental lawyer Jamie Simpson, and lawyer Jill Graham-Scanlan representing Friends of the Northumberland Strait. Photo: Joan Baxter

As part of that work, Simpson submitted a freedom of information (FOIPOP) request to Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) on the Northern Pulp environmental assessment. That FOIPOP revealed many contradictions and much missing information, on which the Halifax Examiner reported in depth.

Related: Northern Pulp’s environmental documents: missing mercury, a mill that never was, and oodles of contradictions.

Related: Deciding Northern Pulp’s future: A tangled mess of dubious science, loans, and liabilities will determine how government officials will act in coming days — and how much it will cost Nova Scotians.

‘Tuned into the whole Northern Pulp scene’ in Nova Scotia

Alkinous Theodotou wrote back to Simpson to say, “In the next few days I will meet the client and we decide which are the best for us.”

Strangely, while Alkinous Theodotou wrote from the email address, the email signature at the bottom of his emails read “Theodorou” with an “r” rather than a “t.” 

On June 15, 2020, Theodotou wrote again to say he had a “few questions about the topics for the lecture” and would appreciate it if they could go over those during another Skype call. He and Simpson agreed to speak on June 24.

From the start, Simpson says it was obvious the only topic that interested Theodotou was Northern Pulp.

“He made several references to newspaper articles about Northern Pulp, and he asked very specific questions where my name was quoted, about quotes that had been attributed to me, and very detailed questions about Northern Pulp and my involvement. He had definitely read the Chronicle Herald articles and was referencing them,” says Simpson.

“He was definitely tuned into the whole Northern Pulp scene here in Nova Scotia.’

Something very ‘odd’

Then things took a strange turn. This is how Simpson describes the Skype call:

As the meeting went on, it went from the general to the specific and he really started to zero in on certain aspects of my involvement with the Northern Pulp file. He was very interested in knowing what sort of lobbying efforts the fishing organizations that I represented had been involved with the government. I did not answer any questions like that.

And then he wanted to know how I had gotten specific information that was referenced in the newspaper articles. And I said it was through freedom of information. And he said, “Yeah, but you must have had some sort of contact in government to tip you off or to or to point you in the right direction, didn’t you?”

And I said, “No, no, it was just long hours of reading through FOIPOP files.” And I think I made some joke about my eyesight going bad because of all the late-night reading I was doing.

But he kept hammering away saying, “You must have had some contact in government. Like you must have had some help to get this information.”

At that point, I knew that this wasn’t right. I knew that something was very odd and strange here. I can remember kind of physically backing away from the screen. And so I basically stopped answering questions. He tried a couple more times to get a little bit more information from me, the most sensitive information possible. He cut to the chase. Then I think he could tell the game was up, too. And the meeting ended shortly thereafter once he realized he wasn’t going to get anything from me. Not that there was any sensitive information to give. But he also realized that whether I had it or not, I wasn’t going to give it.

On July 21, 2020, Simpson received the following email from Theodotou:

Following a long discussion we had with the client, he decided to withdraw from his initiative to organize the online conference. The outbreak, coupled with unexpected low responsive rate from potential speakers forced him to rearrange his priorities and to cancel the project.

On a more personal note, I enjoyed our conversations, and was impressed by your knowledge and willingness to help and also hope it did not take too much of your time.

Hindsight makes it all even weirder

Reflecting on it now, and with the benefit of hindsight, Simpson says the invitation was odd from the start.

“I certainly had never been invited to speak at a conference, virtual or otherwise, in Europe,” he says.

Still, the invitation was, Simpson says, “within the realm of possibilities.”

Simpson figures he probably wouldn’t have even answered the emails or let the strange invitation go as far as it did had he not been so busy at the time, and had more time to reflect on it.

He found the experience so strange that he later shared it with another lawyer who also worked on the Northern Pulp file to help citizen groups develop input for the environmental assessment process for the proposed effluent treatment facility.

Turns out, that lawyer had had a similar invitation. It came from an organization claiming to represent a public interest group in the Netherlands asking the lawyer to speak at a meeting about their experience with the Northern Pulp environmental assessment.

The lawyer tells the Examiner that the invitation seemed so odd that they did some googling, and then deleted the email without replying. 

The disappearing company

The experience bothered Simpson and afterwards he went online to “do some Internet digging” to find out “who these people actually were.”

He found a link to this LinkedIn profile for an Alkinous Theodorou, which indicates he’s been CEO of Red Roof Events since 2018. According to the LinkedIn page, before that, Theodorou had spent nearly eight years with Deloitte Digital in Luxembourg, and nearly 13 years with BBDO, an advertising agency in Greece. 

An extensive online search for Alkinous Theodotou or Theodorou turned up only this LinkedIn profile.

However, the website provided in Theodorou’s emails to Simpson,, leads to an empty domain.

The Internet Archive, Wayback Machine, shows that this domain name expired in August 2018. There are no captures of any active websites for Red Roof Events.

There are references to Red Roof Events on websites that collect business information, such as Apollo, which says Red Roof has one employee. It too provides the non-existent website address for the company.

To say it’s odd that a company calling itself a “global speakers agency” and those who run it are all but invisible on the Internet is, well, a gross understatement.

Northern Pulp legal wrangling

A little corporate and historical context may be useful here.

In December 2019, six months before Simpson received this invitation, then Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change Minister Gordon Wilson decided Northern Pulp needed to submit an environmental report as part of the environmental assessment process for the new effluent treatment facility it was proposing for its pulp mill in Pictou County. 

In January 2020, shortly after the mill closed, Northern Pulp went to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to ask for a judicial review of the minister’s decision to require an environmental report for the project.

Simpson says the fishing organizations he represented during the environmental assessment process were seeking to be interveners in the judicial review.

On April 28, 2020, Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) released the final Terms of Reference (TOR) for the environmental report. 

Then on May 5, 2020, Northern Pulp withdrew its project from the environmental assessment process, and the next day, also withdrew the judicial review of the assessment process.

Less than a month later, on June 2, 2020 Jamie Simpson received the emailed invitation from Lia Weber, ostensibly of Red Roof Events, to speak at a “private online conference” for one of Red Roof’s “clients.”

That led to those two strange Skype calls on June 9 and 24, and the extraordinary interest from a man in Luxembourg, who spells his name two ways claiming to be CEO of a company that seems to have vanished into thin air, into Simpson’s work on the Northern Pulp file. 

Meanwhile, on June 8, once again Northern Pulp went to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, this time to appeal the May 14, 2020 Ministerial Order from NSECC, unhappy that the minister was imposing conditions based on the Environment Act, which stipulated that Northern Pulp should continue to operate and maintain the Boat Harbour facility to prevent septic conditions from developing.

On June 19, 2020, Northern Pulp and six affiliates declared themselves “insolvent” and sought creditor protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court, where they continue to enjoy that protection today after eight extensions, despite repeated opposition from counsel for the province of Nova Scotia.

Related: Corporate shell game. Part 1. Northern Pulp seeks creditor protection in a BC court, and its largest creditor is its owner, Paper Excellence

Related: The “weird” legal mechanism being used by Northern Pulp in its $450 million lawsuit against Nova Scotia

Related: Northern Pulp wants another six month delay in B.C. court and forced mediation with Nova Scotia

In the midst of all this legal wrangling, Paper Excellence and Hervey Investment Inc. (Netherlands), the owners of Northern Pulp and nine affiliates, decided to launch yet another legal case, this one a whopping lawsuit against the province of Nova Scotia.

Recall that a recent report from the Environmental Paper Network, Greenpeace, Woods & Wayside, and the Rainforest Action Network shows that Paper Excellence is part of the same multi-billion-dollar corporate group as Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and the Sinar Mas Group (SMG), which have “a record of extensive deforestation and social conflict” and are owned by members of the billionaire Sino-Indonesian Widjaja family.

Figures (above and below) from the recent Greenpeace report on Paper Excellence links to Asia Pulp & Paper

On December 16, 2021 Paper Excellence and Hervey Investment and seven other plaintiffs, including Northern Pulp, filed a statement of claim against the Province of Nova Scotia for losses that the statement said were now expected “to exceed $450 million.”

The statement of claim alleges “malfeasance in public office” as well as “conspiracy and negligent misrepresentation arising from the acts and omissions of officials and representatives of the Province intended to force the closure of the BH-ETF [Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility] and consequently the closure of the mill.”

The statement identifies by name “individuals” and “others currently unknown to the plaintiffs who assisted in such course of conduct” between 2014 until 2020, so the province could, the plaintiffs claim, “evade or breach” its obligations and “inflict harm” on them.

In short, Paper Excellence et al. are arguing that people inside the Nova Scotia government and bureaucracy conspired to close the mill.

This sounds like the kind of information Red Roof Events CEO Alkinous Theodotou was trying to get out of Jamie Simpson, when he asked him if he had people inside government helping him with information he used to develop submissions on behalf of the fishers’ groups.

Which, for the record, Simpson absolutely did not.

Searching for answers

The Examiner sent emails to Red Roof Events [], to Alkinous Theodotou [] and Lia Weber [] asking for information on why they contacted Jamie Simpson in 2020, and requesting an interview with Theodotou.

None of the emails could be delivered.

The Examiner also sent text messages to the telephone numbers in the email signatures for Lia Weber and Alkinous Theodotou. One was never delivered, and the other resulted in a message that the number was “incorrect.”

The Examiner contacted Paper Excellence via its website to ask if the company, any of its affiliates or staff have any knowledge of or relationship with a company called “Red Roof Events” (or its CEO Alkinous Theodotou or Theodorou).

So far there has been no reply.

Make of that what you will.

Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website:; Twitter @joan_baxter

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  1. Thank you Joan and Jamie for bringing this to light. If it was in a novel, it would seem far fetched, but it seems to fit nicely with Northern Pulp’s lawsuit claiming there was a conspiracy against them.

  2. This is likely unrelated, but here goes: When amalgamation was proposed for Pictou County (and thankfully defeated due to the efforts of the ANTY Group led by Brian White -now deceased)I attended a meeting of the group pushing for amalgamation. At that meeting a person indicated that a UK co. was interested in starting an iron works in Pictou Co. and would employ fifty or more people in “good paying jobs” should we “get our act together”. A convenient company at a convenient time and for a convenient purpose was my first thought. I approached the person who stated that this was a real prospect for the County; got the name of the Company; drove home and about midnight started to check this out. The company had one active trustee and one owner.The company had no orders on its books and was in financial trouble.Why would anyone see this as a ‘prospective employer’ in Pictou County?
    Red Roof Events is clearly bogus- a shill- and seeking info. that would benefit NP.