CHAPTER 29. DIXON’S MARKETING DIRECTOR, STUART CARSON
Richard Wiseman, Andrew Lazenby and Colin Joseph were all in Court on a daily basis seated on the front bench directly in front of the witness box. This meant that they were able to gaze intently at John and his witnesses, whenever they wished, which was slightly intimidating and added to the pressure. One would have thought that in the interests of fair play, now that the time had arrived for Shell to mount its defence, with witnesses giving evidence on its behalf, the two sides would switch positions so that John and his solicitor would be seated directly in front of the witness box. However, unlike soccer matches, there is no half-time change over on the field of play in a UK Courtroom.
Stuart Carson was one of Shell’s early witnesses. Our first impression when reading his witness statement some weeks before was that Mr Carson appeared to be as hopelessly biased as the witness statements from people who worked either directly or indirectly for Shell. On making enquiries I discovered that in fact he was at the time a director of Shell’s main auditors, Price Waterhouse and Coopers. Neither he nor Shell apparently felt it necessary to disclose this important link. The potential conflict of interest had not been disclosed. We all know from the Enron and WorldCom scandals that even prestigious auditor firms can be potentially influenced and indeed corrupted by their powerful corporate clients.
In his statement and in the witness box, Stuart gave the impression that he would never, not under any circumstances, have entertained taking an option on a promotional concept. This was despite the documentary evidence in the form of original Shell letters proving that in fact he had HIMSELF negotiated and obtained an option on a Don Marketing concept, namely the Star Trek scheme. It had been agreed on the spot without Mr Carson seeking authority from anyone else at Shell. Perhaps Shell had not brought these original documents to the attention of Mr Carson prior to the trial to refresh his memory? I cannot see any other acceptable reason for such a major lapse in memory, which was crucially important to the credibility of my son and Don Marketing.
I will leave it to others to decide if in his position as a director of a major firm with on ongoing valuable and prestigious contract with Shell, Mr Carson would have done anything other than his best to support Shell’s line of defence. Would you consider him to be an impartial witness in such circumstances?
Stuart did however say that John was a “quality person”. For that I suppose we must be duly grateful.
Stuart Carson is now Marketing Director of the Dixon’s Group, the largest electrical retailer in the UK with a chain of stores, including Dixon’s, Curry’s and PC World. Thus the assessment of Stuart Carson as a “high flyer” some 10 years earlier by Paul King has proved to be absolutely correct.
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