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We were delighted with what had been unearthed by John’s efforts and thought that Shell would likely throw in the towel. Just in case they were unaware of all of the material, we wrote to Shell senior management, including Mr Malcolm Brinded, who had taken over from Dr Fay as Chairman of Shell UK Limited while retaining his title of Managing Director of Shell UK Exploration & Production (the UK’s largest offshore operator).   

Mr Brinded, a former Conservative Party policy advisor, is now a Group Managing Director of the Royal Dutch Shell Group and Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors. By way of background information, he was seconded to the Tory governments Department of Energy from 1982-84 and on returning to Shell, was responsible for job-cutting exercises throughout different sectors of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Mr Brinded was more recently appointed by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to the Oil and Gas Industry Task Force  

We supplied Mr Brinded with details about the corrupt practices at Shell UK revealed in the discovery documents. We were convinced that Shell senior management would be compelled to intervene and shake up Shell UK. It certainly seemed that our activities might have contributed to Dr Fay being ousted. We also felt that the evidence would nail Mr Lazenby in Court. That just showed how ignorant we were about litigation. It is one thing having damming documentary evidence and quite another to be able to introduce it in Court.  

I eventually wrote the following letter to Malcolm Brinded on 18th January 1999.


Mr Malcolm Brinded


Shell UK Limited

Shell-Mex House

London WC2R ODX

Dear Mr Brinded

I am writing to you regarding an unresolved and no doubt unwelcome problem that you have inherited from your predecessor.  I refer to the “Don Marketing Saga”.

Since you are starting with a clean slate on these matters, I want you to know that contrary to whatever you may have been told by Dr Fay, we are reasonable people who have always gone to great lengths to avoid becoming embroiled in litigation. We enjoyed a mutually successful, friendly and trusting business relationship with Shell for over a decade before hostilities commenced.

Time and time again, we have been placed in the position of having to sue Shell or abandon legitimate claims. On every occasion that we have brought a claim to Shell’s attention, your lawyers have rejected them as being totally without merit.  Despite the obvious merit of each claim, they consistently opted to play hard ball in the hope that we would give up.

When I publicly challenged Sir John Jennings at the 1995 AGM about the lack of any fair process to deal with disputes, he made the point that “it takes two to tango”.  When we spoke to him after the AGM we advised him that it was Shell UK, not us, that was not prepared to tango.  We actually made more progress in the few minutes spent with Sir John Jennings than in the previous two years of acrimonious discussion with Shell UK. All that was required was some commonsense on both sides.

At the time when my son, John Donovan, wrote to Dr Fay in respect of the SMART claim, he proposed that the matter be discussed and resolved privately.  Dr Fay declined the invitation and threw us to the legal wolves at DJ Freeman.   We still tried to avoid litigation and agreed to await the preparation of a report by DJ Freeman.

For several months, while discussions were continuing, we voluntarily kept the matter confidential because we did not want to jeopardise Shell’s prospects of signing up SMART partners.  When eventually DJ Freeman had assembled the evidence and interviewed witnesses, it was clear that the process had strengthened our claim.

Nonetheless, DJ Freeman subsequently ignored independent expert witness opinions, including one obtained from Professor Steve Worthington, who is probably the worlds leading authority on loyalty schemes, and informed us that our claim was “doomed to failure”. When they then engaged the services of sleazy undercover investigators, all hell broke loose. Faced with hard ball tactics yet again, I have responded accordingly.

Quite frankly at the age of 81 I would ideally prefer to be snoozing in my favourite chair, than spending most of my time fighting Shell. It is not good for me and it is not good for Shell.  In this connection, I enclose copies of the next two leaflets in the pipeline. Both will be circulated in London and The Hague next week i.e. the week commencing 25th January. I also enclose a copy of a self explanatory draft letter to the Lord Chancellor’s Department, which will be finalised, before my departure to the Netherlands next week.

The main message that I want to get across to you is that I would need very little encouragement to end my activities. Shell would not need to capitulate in any way.  Although there is no prospect of my son abandoning his SMART claim, given a modicum of common sense on both sides, matters could be dealt with in a less confrontational way. The undercover agents could be dispensed with and my campaign could be brought to an immediate end.

All it would take is a successful outcome to “without prejudice” discussions between my son and Mr Richard Wiseman. I believe that both have acquired some genuine respect for each other during the past disputes and could agree a way forward that would be advantageous to Shell shareholders, as it would minimise legal costs and the damage to Shell’s reputation. It could also help to stem the deterioration in Shell staff morale. Despite the collapse of previous confidentiality agreements it would not be beyond the wit and wisdom of Richard Wiseman and the respective lawyers to construct a new agreement that would stand the test of time, given sufficient incentives and penalties.

I suspect that what ever way forward was agreed, both sides would want discovery and the exchange of witness statements to be completed and the trial date to be retained. From our perspective, we believe that the “good prospects of success” assessment made by leading Counsel over a year ago will be upgraded by further important evidence which has come to light, even though it was buried in a mountain of discovery furnished by Shell. My son believes that no one had previously given the same degree of scrutiny as he did over several days at the offices of DJ Freeman. The new evidence shows a definite pattern and practice of unethical conduct by the relevant Shell manager. My son will be contacting relevant parties to obtain their testimony.

Please note that despite the additional discovery, the situation remains that only one proposal exists, which describes the SMART consortium scheme. It is the one that DM put to Shell UK in strictest confidence. The evidence shows that it was last discussed with a Shell manager, Mr Andrew Lazenby, towards the end of November 1992. It also shows that early January 1993, Mr Lazenby briefed another agency to produce a scheme that was fundamentally identical.

Aside from DM’s proposal, the January 1993 brief was the first time in the entire Shell discovery that there was any evidence of a valid blueprint for the promotion.  Given the proximity of the two dates – late November 1992 and early January 1993, and the specific agreement he reached with two representatives of Don Marketing during the November meeting, whichever way the matter is assessed Mr Lazenby undoubtedly acted improperly.

If you decided to discuss a settlement in the light of the additional evidence (or put the dispute to mediation), there will be no question of holding Shell to ransom. My son would accept the recommendation of a suitable independent third party, for example an international licensing agency, in relation to fair compensation.  Settlement funds could be released over a period of several years to tie in with any confidentiality agreement.

As you are no doubt aware, you have already settled in our favour three High Court actions that DM brought against Shell UK.  Your lawyers have made the fair point that the cases were not heard in Court and consequently no determination was made on the merits of the claims.  Nonetheless, the mere fact that Shell chose to settle them confirmed an acceptance of wrongdoing by Shell.  This conclusion is reinforced by: -

1.      The apologies made by Richard Wiseman on behalf of the board of directors of Shell UK to Don Marketing on two separate occasions in the presence of my son’s solicitor, Mr Richard Woodman.  On the first occasion, a meeting held at Shell-Mex House on 14th June 1996, Richard Wiseman pointed out that Dr Fay was the only Director still remaining from the board that was in place at the time the alleged misdeeds occurred.

2.      The letter of apology that Don Marketing received from Dr Fay.  It has become apparent that the letter was prompted by the mediators who considered the submissions made by both sides and interviewed the main witnesses including Mr Lazenby, the Shell manager at the center of all of the claims.

3.      The fact that Richard Wiseman and Mr Colin Joseph (of DJ Freeman) admitted in an interview with a journalist that DM’s claims had genuine merit.  The interview was recorded by Shell and by the journalist.  I recommend that you listen to the recording, which covers a number of relevant subjects.  We will be seeking a copy.

If you feel that it might be worthwhile in the light of this letter for both sides to talk, I would happily end all campaigning activity including the website and the Shareholders Organisation, so as to give commonsense a chance. 

Yours sincerely

Alfred Donovan


Shell Shareholders Organisation


From M.A. Brinded, Managing Director, Shell UK Exploration and Production,

Strand, London WC2R ODX


Mr. Alfred Donovan

Shell Shareholders Organisation

St. Andrews Castle

Bury St. Edmunds

IP33 3PH                                                                             27th January 1999


Dear Mr. Donovan,


Thank you for your letter of 18th January. I am familiar with the litigation relating to SMART and the background to this matter. I believe that it is not appropriate or constructive for me to engage in direct communication with you on this issue and, as previously advised by both Dr. Fay and Mr. Moody-Stuart, I would ask that all future communication is conducted through the proper legal channels.

Yours sincerely

Malcolm Brinded

We had further dealings with Malcolm Brinded a few months later at the 1999 Shell AGM. Prior to the AGM, Sheila Gee, a Shell station licensee who represented a number of current and former licensees of Shell sites, had approached John. We had circulated a leaflet on their behalf at Shell HQ buildings. It stated as follows: -


I hope that Shell UK is thoroughly ashamed at the articles published in the January 1999 edition of Forecourt Trader concerning its relationship with Shell station operators.


We knew from our recent retailer survey of over 1500 Shell stations that all is not well. 55% of respondents said that Shell UK operates in an unethical manner. 50% said Shell’s STATEMENT OF GENERAL BUSINESS PRINCIPLES is a sham.


Shell did not take up our public challenge to commission and publish the results of independent research asking the same questions and offering respondents GUARANTEED anonymity. We now know the reason why.  They have good reason to avoid taking any action that would further confirm the disgust in which they are held by a growing number of Shell retailers.


Forecourt Trader reports that it has been contacted by a number of Shell retailers who have a list of serious grievances against Shell.  All insisted on remaining anonymous apparently out of fear of reprisal by Shell.  They complained that Shell’s actions were rendering their businesses unprofitable.  In other words, Shell’s greed is sending them broke.


Forecourt Trader was so concerned that it conducted its own poll of Shell operators. It has published their comments, all of which strongly criticised Shell. Again, none wanted to be identified. According to the report, Shell actually has a quick-response team ready to take over sites where the operators have given up and handed back their keys. Apparently “the team is stretched to breaking point”. That situation alone speaks volumes.  Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Shell denies that there are problems.


A number of Shell station operators have contacted us during the period of my families’ problems with Shell. They have made very serious allegations, including for example, that Shell is evil and immoral. Such is the apparent degree of intimidation by Shell that most have insisted on remaining anonymous.


One has however been prepared to go on the record. Former Police Officer, Mr Patrick Bradshaw, from Hayes in Middlesex, had a long business relationship with Shell.  He operated a number of Shell stations. He has written to Mr Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, alleging that Shell UK robbed him of his livelihood due to the underhand manner and deceit of Shell UK management. He also mentioned in his letter the “bully boy tactics” that we have become so familiar with during the tenure of Dr Fay, the “feudal baron” Chairman of Shell UK who has suddenly opted for “retirement”.


As a result of the stress brought about by Shell’s actions, Mr Bradshaw was left in a distressed state, both physically and financially. I note that the term “distressed”, was used by Forecourt Trader in relation to the feelings of the operators still being exploited by this unsavoury oil giant.


Mr Bradshaw has given me permission to publish extracts from a letter that he has sent to Mr John McDonnell MP.  In the letter, he says: “I feel that I have been treated totally unfair by a large multi-national company that has the power and the finance to push me aside.  Management can falsify the truth without a moment’s hesitation…” He mentions “Shell’s ruthlessness and cheating practices” and also states “Shell’s bad reputation stems solely from the actions of its senior management”.


It appears historians were wrong in believing that the “robber baron” age had ended. Oil baron Shell self-evidently operates oppressively and exploitatively, using the ancient tactics of fear and intimidation against the modern day equivalent of the peasant - small traders being forced to operate on the breadline.  That is the unpalatable truth of the matter.


The HQ of Royal Dutch Petroleum, the effective owner of Shell UK (with a 60% shareholding in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group) is located in The Hague, a city renowned throughout the world as being a beacon of justice. It is therefore ironic that Royal Dutch Petroleum is continuing to allow the unscrupulous actions of the British owned (40%) of the Anglo-Dutch group to destroy the reputation of the Shell brand.


Published by Alfred Donovan – Chairman, Shell Shareholders Org.

St Andrews Castle, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3PH. Tel: 0411 526 769.

Fax: 01284 760529    Website:

As Shell had not settled their grievances the disgruntled Shell licensees wanted to make representations at the Shell AGM, but had no way of getting into the meeting. As a Shell shareholder, John happily furnished them with official passes. Pat Bradshaw and his wife and Sheila Gee, and her husband, were among those present.  

While speaking to the group outside the swing entry doors, John was approached by Malcolm Brinded. He recognised John even though they had never met and shook him warmly by the hand despite the fact that the trial was only a couple of months away.   

Mr Brinded then went into the conference centre. John noticed that Brinded was dispatched by Richard Wiseman around the conference centre like a radio controlled PR man to meet and greet VIP visitors. Mr Brinded, who had then only recently taken over from Dr Fay as Shell UK Chairman, was obviously very dependent on the wily Mr Wiseman who had considerable experience of Shell AGM’s.  

John advised the Shell retailer group that one of them should raise a question in the Q & A session and ask to meet the Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, after the AGM (as per our successful strategy with Sir John Jennings). This duly happened and the whole group had a meeting at the AGM with Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Malcolm Brinded and several other Shell officials. It was agreed that an investigation would be made into their complaints and further meetings held. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart agreed that they could contact him if they so wished.  

All these years later their grievances have still not been resolved. Sheila Gee has had to overcome all of the legal barriers that Shell lawyers have put up (as usual) to try to drain the financial resources and courage of a weaker opponent. However, in 2002, Sheila triumphed in the Court of Appeal when three Judges ruled in her favour in regards to a legal technicality raised by the Queens Counsel representing Shell, Mr Andrew Hochhauser. Lord Justice Scott Baker, Lord Justice Sedley, and Lord Justice Simon Brown all ruled unanimously in her favour. Their Lordships decision brought Sheila back to square one in that she is now allowed to proceed with her original legal action against Shell. It has taken all this time, plus great effort and incredible courage on her part just to overcome the legal obstacles thrown up by Shell lawyers.  

With hindsight, the direct discussions in 1999 facilitated by my son John with the then  Royal Dutch Group Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, and Shell UK Chairman, Malcolm Brinded, unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, proved to be a complete and utter waste of time for Sheila and her colleagues. The promises made by Brinded for a fair investigation proved to be worthless.

A copy of a self-explanatory letter which John wrote to Malcolm Brinded following his discussion with him at the 1999 AGM is printed overleaf: -

19th May 1999 

Mr Malcolm Brinded

Country Chairman

Shell UK Limited                                                                            17 Pages by Fax Only To:

Shell-Mex House                                                                             0171 257 3939

Dear Mr Brinded

I am grateful to you for the friendly approach that you took during our brief discussion at the AGM.   Mr Wiseman will confirm that you are perfectly free to discuss or correspond with me regarding the pending trial without either of us breaching any sub judice rules.

Before I turn to the SMART claim, I would just like to say that I was pleased to learn that you will be looking into the grievances of the former and current agent operators who contacted me.  They seem to be decent hard working people.  I understand that Mr Moody-Stuart has asked to be kept informed.  I will have no further involvement in the matter.

As you may be aware, all of our current and past litigation revolves around Mr Andrew Lazenby.  We have alleged in the current case that Mr Lazenby deliberately misused confidential information supplied to him in good faith.  I know that it must seem unlikely to you that a Shell Manager would behave in this way.  If I did not know the background I would think the same.

I could point you to all the relevant evidence in documents and witness statements and describe the history in depth.  However, I know you are busy and have little time to read lots of paperwork.  I have therefore decided to enclose just two documents.  I do hope you will read them.

They are witness statements from highly reputable independent people.  One is from Mr Mike McMahon and the other from Mr John Armstrong-Holmes.  I traced these gentlemen recently after finding information about them in the discovery documents supplied by Shell.  Please note when reading the statements the Options to which both make reference must be the one Shell took from Don Marketing – there is no suggestion that Shell ever took any other Option on a loyalty scheme.

In the concluding paragraph of his Witness Statement, Mr Lazenby testifies to the “unreserved support” that he has “received from Shell management to the highest levels”.   I can draw only one conclusion.  Shell senior management at the highest levels cannot possibly be aware of the self-incriminating documents written by Mr Lazenby, which provide a definitive answer to the question mark over his honesty and scruples, which has been the fundamentally important core issue in all of our claims.

Although you have probably been led to believe that Mr Lazenby is an innocent victim of an obsessive serial litigant, the truth of the matter is that Mr Lazenby used underhand business practices during the Smart project on a “predatory” basis, exactly as Mr Armstrong-Holmes has stated. The Shell documents provide absolute proof.  Mr Lazenby is convicted by his own words.

I would be grateful for your permission to supply a copy of this letter and the attached document to Mrs Judy Moody-Stuart, who has recently been in correspondence with my father at her own initiative.  Mrs Moody-Stuart is aware that I am making this request.  As a result of her intervention, my father decided to cease all campaigning activity on 7th May pending the outcome of the trial. The websites have also been suspended as a result of the same development.

Yours sincerely

John Donovan


Printed below is the Witness Statement of Mr John Armstrong-Holmes as supplied to Mr Brinded.  Mr Armstrong-Holmes stood by his testimony even when later under intense cross-examination by Geoffrey Hobbs QC in the High Court.

I, JOHN ARMSTRONG-HOLMES of (address not published) WILL SAY AS FOLLOWS:-

  1. I am the Commercial Manager for a design and print company specialising in the design of brochures, catalogues and corporate identities for organisations including charities, banks and building societies.
  1. From 1983 until 1992 my wife and I operated a small design and marketing practice. In the course of our business activities we created and developed a number of very successful consumer promotions for Home Brewery Plc. We handled every aspect of each promotion, from design and printing all literature to sourcing of prizes and fulfilment etc., and were well rewarded for our endeavours.
  1. Additionally, we provided marketing services to a number of well known organisations, particularly in the field of commercial and leisure development.  I conducted business with our clients at director level and at all times we did so in the strictest confidence. We had a mutual bond of trust. A verbal agreement or a handshake was all it took to begin the process of implementing a project. I never once experienced a breach of confidence or trust and we were always remunerated for the work we undertook.
  1. From 1985 until 1993, I was a senior member (councillor) of Nottingham County Council and was elected by my peers as their Group Leader in 1992. As a senior member I was well versed in dealing with highly sensitive and confidential matters. I can’t recall one breach of confidence during my time on the Authority. Your word was your bond.
  1. Around the beginning of March 1992 my wife, Mariane, had an idea for a “Green” promotion. We discussed it in depth and I quickly realised that my wife had thought of an extraordinarily appealing concept for a novel and timely petrol sales promotion in view of the oil industries strong desire to be linked with “green” policies. Being in the promotions market for many years, I knew that no such scheme had ever been adopted by an oil company (or indeed by any other retail chain). It clearly represented a genuine first. We decided that Shell would be a prime target and developed the concept accordingly.


Approach to Shell UK


  1. Although my wife and I owned the concept personally, we felt that it would be better received by Shell if presented under the banner of a new company, Christian James Design & Marketing. On 26th March 1992 (our Wedding Anniversary) I wrote a teaser letter to Alan McNab, National Promotions Manager at Shell UK, saying that we had an idea for a “Green” promotion that we were willing to share with Shell on an exclusive basis. I specifically made the point that it would be “a genuine first in your industry!”
  1. On or about 9th April 1992 I received a letter from Andrew J Lazenby, Promotions Manager at Shell UK Oil, saying he would like to give further thought towards making use of our idea in their promotional mix. He invited me to call him to arrange a time to discuss further and demonstrate our idea.
  1. I had a fairly lengthy telephone discussion with Andrew Lazenby on or about 24th April 1992. He wanted me to disclose the idea on the basis that he did not want to waste my time or his with a meeting if the concept had already been put to Shell. I agreed to disclose the idea after he gave me a verbal and categorical guarantee of confidentiality.
  1. When I did reveal the concept he appeared to be very excited about it and was keen to meet up at the earliest possible opportunity. I explained to Mr Lazenby that my wife had devised the concept. He said he would be pleased to meet her. A meeting was arranged for 10am on Friday 1st May 1992 at Shell-Mex House, which I confirmed to him by letter on 24th April.


Meeting with Andrew Lazenby at Shell-Mex House


  1. As arranged, my wife accompanied me at the meeting on 1st May 1992 and we presented to Mr Lazenby a confidential document outlining in considerable detail our concept for the “Spring into Shell” promotion. Before we began to discuss the contents of the document, I again emphasised to Mr Lazenby that the contents of the document and all discussions in respect of our concept were in strictest confidence. He reiterated his categoric guarantee that it would be treated at all times on that basis. The legal term – “CONFIDENTIAL” was prominently printed on the cover page of the document and Mr Lazenby retained the document under that express condition.
  1. We talked through the document with him in detail and he still appeared to be genuinely excited by the concept. Mr Lazenby explained that originality was a crucial point as far as Shell Management was concerned. As he was keen to verify that the idea was genuinely a “first”, he had double-checked with a colleague who had worked in Shell’s promotions unit since the 1970’s. The colleague had confirmed that although Shell had once featured garden tools in a loyalty scheme, no “garden concept” involving bulbs, plants, shrubs etc., had been originated internally or put to Shell by any other party. Neither had any other oil company used such a promotion.
  1. Mr Lazenby asked if we had sourced any of the “rewards” (as he called them). I said that we had, and disclosed to him in confidence the name of Direct Garden Supplies Ltd in Spalding, Lincolnshire as our likely supplier for bulbs, shrubs etc, and that I envisaged a link up with B & Q and/or Sainbury Homebase for redemption of garden hardware, accessories, tools, furniture etc...
  1. Mr Lazenby said that there was a strong possibility of our idea being used as part of their promotional mix following on from what was already being planned for January and February 1993. He made it clear that he didn’t want us to approach a competitor and said that if our concept was incorporated into their promotional mix we could expect a concept fee for our idea, plus payment for all promotional materials and commissions on merchandise as we would be expected to handle every aspect of the promotion. This, he said, was Shell’s standard practice and how they worked with other promotional agencies.
  1. We went on to discuss various aspects of the promotion, its implementation and children’s increasing interest in their environment and how they could also be locked into the promotion. “Pester power” was an important consideration Mr Lazenby advised us.
  1. The meeting, which lasted about two hours, was very positive. Mr Lazenby certainly gave us the impression that our concept had excited him and he promised that it would be presented favourably by him to an internal meeting on 13th May 1992. He anticipated that the concept would be put to research.


    Subsequent Events


  1. On 5th May 1992 I wrote to Shell covering a few of the points that arose at our meeting. Shortly after 13th May 1992 I called him to enquire about the internal meeting. Mr Lazenby told me the outcome was positive and that our concept would now be put out to research with a few other promotional ideas they were considering. He said that apart from the possibility of a Shell short-term promotion the garden concept could be incorporated into the reward structure of a multi-retailer loyalty concept on which Shell held an option. The project was at an initial stage of appraisal and was a future possibility. The name of Don Marketing was mentioned during the conversation but I cannot recall the context. I already knew of Don Marketing and their association with Shell. Mr Lazenby said that the initial research would be for a standalone concept. I agreed to keep secret the information he disclosed to me. Our call ended with Mr Lazenby saying he would be back in touch once the research had been concluded and reported to Shell towards the end of July 1992.
  1. I contacted Mr Lazenby at the end of July 1992 to discuss the outcome of the research and he told me that whilst our concept had not come out at the top of the list, it had received good results and was still a strong possibility. I spoke to him on a number of other occasions during the latter part of 1992 and subsequently in 1993. He always asked for more time on the basis that the concept was now more likely to be incorporated into the long-term scheme. During one such call in the summer of 1993, I asked if he would like to negotiate an option on our concept and reminded him of his comment about the option on the loyalty scheme. He said that he had inherited it from a predecessor and that although Shell no longer entered into such agreements, he could assure me that Shell definitely had our concept earmarked for further research. He asked us to be patient.
  1. Nothing more was heard on the subject until I was contacted by John Donovan on 10th March 1999. He advised me of his High court litigation against Shell UK in relation to the Smart loyalty promotion. Mr Donovan explained that he had found documents relating to our proposal to Mr Lazenby within a mass of papers supplied to him by Shell as “discovery”. Mr Donovan supplied me with copies of the documents, which included a copy of the confidential proposal that Mr Lazenby had retained under consideration.
  1. My wife and I were in a state of shock when we read the letter that Mr Lazenby sent to the Hazell Consultancy on 31st July 1992. Mr Lazenby advised them that he had on 22nd July (1992) received the results of market research on a “gardening concept” which Shell had “formulated internally, not utilising any external agencies”. Mr Lazenby was undoubtedly referring to the concept that my wife and I had disclosed to him in confidence. His intentions to hijack our concept were abundantly clear and his plans to implement the promotion internally were totally at variance with what he had agreed with us. Mr Lazenby intentionally deceived us. I can only conclude that his categoric assurances were an out-and-out deception.
  1. The discovery papers show that our “Spring into Shell” gardening concept was researched again for Shell in September 1993 as a “Spring Bulbs” theme and that Mr Lazenby was still Promotions Manager at that time. They also show that Shell issued a letter of intent to Direct Garden Supplies Ltd in October 1995 for the provision of awards in the Smart loyalty scheme.
  1. Mr Donovan also supplied me with copies of notes and correspondence generated by Mr Lazenby in late October 1993 in relation to PRJECT ONYX. It confirms his intention in that instance to “keep rejects holding as long as poss”. Mr Lazenby wrote a few days later to a number of the suppliers he had already decided to reject, advising of delays in considering their proposals and seeking further extensive information from them. His colleagues were aware of his insidious actions.
  1. It is obvious to me that Mr Lazenby kept us holding on for the same underhand and unethical reasons. He did not want us to offer our concept and our services to any competitor. I would not have thought it conceivable that the Promotions Manager of a multinational company could behave in such a dishonest and despicable manner, particularly when dealing with small companies. I do not see how his actions can be interpreted as anything other than predatory.
  1. My wife and I find it deeply disturbing that Shell’s lawyers have remained silent even though they have been in possession of this highly incriminating evidence for several years. It must have been examined in connection with the previous claims brought against Shell. We find it even more amazing that contrary to the promises of honest dealing by Shell employees given in Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles (of which Mr Donovan has supplied me with a copy). Mr Lazenby still works for Shell. This was confirmed by (undecipherable print) Shell-Mex House.
  1. I confirm the contents of this statement are true to the best of my knowledge, information and belief and I make it knowing it may be given in evidence.


John Armstrong-Holmes

9th April 1999



Mr Armstrong-Holmes subsequently confirmed his evidence under oath in the witness box. 

Royal Dutch Shell Group Chairman, Sir Philip Watts, had been aware for some time how Mr Lazenby deliberately cheated and deceived a host of people like Mr Armstrong-Holmes who disclosed business ideas to him in good faith. Information about this was supplied in writing to Sir Philip Watts some years ago by my son.  

Sir Philip was also aware of the peace treaty breach by Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman as he was copied on some of the correspondence, including the notification of the repudiatory breach. Like Mr Brinded, Sir Philip Watts was also supplied with a copy of the draft manuscript of my biography by Mr Wiseman. Sir Philip did not take up the invitation to point out any inaccuracies so that any needed amendments could be made.   

Sir Philip was therefore aware of all of these events including the covert operation involving outright deception which was carried out on behalf of Shell. It is telling that although sleazy Shell solicitors DJ Freeman were cornered by John’s lawyers into admitting that they hired the relevant undercover operative, neither Sir Philip nor anyone else at Shell has ever apologised to me or my son for this wrongdoing.  

Sir Philip Watts or Malcolm Brinded could have intervened and put things right if they had wanted to do so. Dr Fay demonstrated some good grace by issuing an unsolicited letter of apology for the earlier inappropriate behaviour by Shell in its dealings with my son and me.  It is not too late for Shell Management to make a similar peace offering. However at the age of almost 87 I obviously cannot hold my breath for very long. I suspect that under the circumstances Shell will be waiting and hoping for a different final solution.

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