CHAPTER 27. OTHER WITNESSES FOR THE PROSECUTION
A succession of witnesses called by John’s lawyers subsequently gave evidence at the trial.
Armstrong-Holmes confirmed the basic evidence he had given in his Witness Statement. In an effort to undermine his important evidence, Geoffrey Hobbs asked Armstrong-Holmes if he had ever been a member of a pressure group. Armstrong-Holmes replied sarcastically that he used to be Leader of the Tory Group on Leicestershire County Council – perhaps Mr Hobbs considered the Conservative party to be a pressure group?
Mr Armstrong-Holmes got across the message loud and clear that he was outraged by the conduct of Mr Lazenby in respect of his own proposal disclosed to Lazenby in strictest confidence. What happened to him, with Lazenby adopting his idea (within the SMART scheme) without any payment or credit (and with Lazenby contacting his supplier behind his back), closely paralleled the experience of other unfortunates, including ourselves, who had put ideas to Lazenby believing they were protected by Shell’s reputation for integrity.
John Chambers is, as already indicated, a much-respected individual in the advertising and sales promotion profession. A university graduate, he had spent several years at Nestle as a Brand Manager He subsequently became the Advertising & Services Manager of Rank Hovis McDougal Foods. He was a member of the Management Committee of The Institute of Sales Promotion and twice Chairman of their Awards Committee. He served as a member of the CAP Committee of the Advertising Standards Authority. Mr Chambers confirmed the evidence given in his Witness Statement concerning Don Marketing’s rights to the multibrand scheme divulged to Shell.
Roger Sotherton was another important witness for John. In general terms Roger had a straightforward approach – to take the line of least resistance. He told Geoffrey Hobbs, almost everything he wanted to hear and did exactly the same with John’s barrister, Geoffrey Cox, even though it apparently often contradicted his earlier evidence. He did however confirm the fundamentally important evidence concerning the discussions which he and my son had with Lazenby about the multibrand loyalty scheme and the validity of the associated documents.
Roger obviously was not seeking a confrontation. The only point when there was some excitement is when Hobbs asked him about documents in connection with the alleged forged letter. Roger responded by saying that whoever had burgled his house had access to the documents in his possession. Roger also mentioned the other similar burglaries. Mr Hobbs dropped the line of questioning like a hot potato.
Roger said afterwards that he had serious personal problems arising from the burglary; as a result he and his wife had subsequently sold their home because they no longer felt safe and with all the pressure involved in a very difficult sale, his mind had completely gone. With hindsight, I believe that the background events – undercover operatives, threats of violence against our witnesses and the burglaries had frightened Roger Sotherton and his wife so much that he was determined not to do or say anything that might incur the wrath of Shell.
Richard Woodman sent an email to John after Roger had finished giving evidence. It said: “I hope you have arrived back home safely and are having a well-earned rest. You performed magnificently in the witness box. You have done credit to yourself and have earned the admiration and respect of all concerned. Don’t worry about Roger – he was so hopelessly wrong about everything he could not possibly be lying!”
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