This is the remarkable life story of Alfred Donovan, the Chairman of the Shell Shareholders Organisation. It is a story of courage and tenacity.
By way of background information, the sole objective of the Shell Shareholders Organisation is to promote compliance by Shell staff and management with the Statement of General Business Principles published by the Royal Dutch Shell Group (which promises honesty and integrity by Shell in all of its dealings).
One thing WE promise; readers who invest just ten minutes of their time will discover that the Statement is far removed from what it seems. It has NO legal value and despite all of the hype, has often been disregarded by Shell management. In other words, profits take priority over principles.
At the age 86, I have been travelling along the jerky conveyer belt of life for far longer than I ever anticipated and have reached the stage whereby sadly almost all of my contemporaries from my army years and business career have already reached the end of the line.
It has been an extraordinary journey culminating in a series of “no-holds barred” High Court actions with Shell UK Limited, part of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Not an entirely equal contest with my son, John, and I pitting our wits, ingenuity, and courage against one of the world’s most powerful multinational goliaths with almost unlimited financial resources at its disposal to smite any foe. I am a long term Shell shareholder and have previously enjoyed a multi-million pounds trading relationship with Shell stretching over many decades.
My story involves senior management at Royal Dutch Shell Group including:-
Malcolm Brinded CBE, current Group Managing Director of the Royal Dutch Shell Group; Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors; Chief Executive Officer, Shell Gas & Power; Chief Executive Officer Shell Exploration & Production. There has been speculation in the media that Mr Brinded will shortly be appointed as Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group.
Lord Oxburgh KBE FRS, currently non-executive Chairman, Shell Transport And Trading Company Plc.
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former Group Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell; still a director of Shell Transport And Trading Company Plc. Also Chairman of the Anglo American gold and diamond mining group.
Mr Maarten van den Bergh, a director of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. Former Group Managing Director, Royal Dutch Shell Group; former President of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. Also Chairman of Lloyds TSB Group (one of the worlds leading financial institutions).
Mr David Pirret, former President of Shell Brazil and currently President of Shell Lubricants in the USA .
Mr Richard Wiseman, currently Legal Director, Shell UK Limited and UK General Counsel Shell International Limited.
Sir Philip Watts, Former Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Former Chairman Shell Oil USA.
In 1998, my son sued Shell in respect of their smart card based multi-partner loyalty scheme, “Shell SMART” (similar to the recently launched UK “Nectar” scheme) claiming that it was based on a concept which he had put forward to them in strictest confidence. By this time, Shell had already settled in our favour three other High Court Actions we had brought against them for breach of confidence, each for a different promotional concept. I had also sued Shell for defamation and accepted (in 1995) a substantial consideration from them to withdraw the action (more details later).
We wrote to the Directors of Shell Transport and Trading Company plc, (including Sir Philip Watts, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Lord Oxburgh) in April 1998 informing them of the SMART Writ and warning that important information was deliberately being withheld from them and Shell shareholders by Shell UK Limited. Eventually, on 15th June 1999, the much publicised Shell SMART litigation came to trial in Court 58 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Due to circumstances that I will describe, at the then age of 82, I found myself without legal representation personally defending myself against a massive Counterclaim for damages from Shell. They also brought a Counterclaim against my son.
On the first day of the trial the High Court Judge, the Hon Mr Justice Laddie, commented that it was one of the most unpleasant cases that had ever come before him, with both sides making extremely serious allegations against each other. Perhaps he had in mind the threats made against our witnesses; the series of burglaries carried out by coincidence or otherwise at the homes of people involved in the trial and the admission by Shell, that undercover agents retained by Shell solicitors DJ Freeman had been engaged in clandestine activity against us.
I note that a similar admission by Shell was reported in a front-page story published in the UK by The Sunday Times on 17th June 2001. Namely that Shell confirmed hiring an undercover operative (and serving German Secret Service agent) in 1996, Manfred Schickenrieder, to infiltrate Greenpeace and to inform on other people and organisations campaigning against Shell. As will become evident, my son and I were conducting a devastating campaign against Shell at that time, so with hindsight, it is no surprise that Shell also used the same underhand tactics against us.
I have also read with interest the claims published by Shell whistleblower, Mr John Dyer. He says that after Shell responded to serious allegations made by him against Shell UK Limited, “Investigators kept me under surveillance, my telephone was tapped, my mail intercepted”. Interestingly DJ Freeman was also the unscrupulous firm of solicitors used by Shell in Mr Dyer’s case. We had a not dissimilar experience and actually cornered the senior partner of D J Freeman, Mr Colin Joseph, into admitting in writing that they had used undercover agents against us on behalf of Shell. One such agent, Mr Christopher Phillips, was caught in the act. In this connection, please see Chapter 17 entitled “SINISTER EVENTS” and I promise you will be absolutely staggered at what you read.
In a further article about corporate undercover activity published in The Sunday Times on 2nd September 2001, reporter Robert Winnett stated, “Many large companies have corporate intelligence departments, which then employ outside agencies, often set-up by former spies”. In this connection I believe that Shell or its agents used a mysterious Paris based American, Mr (name has been removed- see below) in an undercover operation targeting our key witnesses. The activities of Mr ****** were investigated by The Guardian Newspaper. They concluded that he is a “spook” (probably CIA) who undertakes freelance assignments.
(*Webmasters note: We did hear from the relevant gentleman on 7 July 2004. He accepts that his credentials do point to him being an intelligence agent but denies that this is in fact the case. Four different individuals all gained the same impression from this gentleman about his credentials, which subsequently turned out to be a misrepresentation. The alternative conclusion is that all four individuals, including a solicitor, misunderstood what they were told by Mr *****, which seems extremely unlikely. In any event, it has been deemed appropriate for security reasons to delete his name and other information which might allow him or his family to be identified)
You will probably have gathered by now that this was no ordinary High Court Case. There had been a number of other bizarre events before the Shell SMART claim went to trial. For example, we caught Shell manager, Andrew Lazenby red-handed, trying to steal our rights to the Shell “Make Money” game concept, which had achieved spectacular success for Shell in several Countries. Lazenby categorically denied during a telephone conversation with my son that behind our backs, he had placed a print order worth several hundred thousand pounds (over $1 million US dollars). Mr Lazenby did not know that his deliberate deception was being taped. We Issued a High Court Writ and also threatened to seek an injunction to stop the multimillion pounds promotion in its tracks and as a consequence, forced Shell to purchase our rights.
This was our first successful claim against Shell. The same Shell manager, Andrew Lazenby, was in fact the key figure in all of our legal actions against Shell. His mindset was evident from this extract of an email he circulated to senior Shell managers on 4th November 1993 in relation to the SMART scheme. Lazenby stated: “My note of 25/10 expressed a personal and pragmatic view of how to handle the problem – it is in fact illegal and is certainly unofficial, and if we were discovered then we will enforce the official position…”
The recently launched Nectar multi-partner scheme in the UK almost certainly stems from the proposal which my son disclosed in strictest confidence to Shell, UK supermarket giant J Sainsbury, and UK credit card company Barclaycard. Without his knowledge, Shell subsequently went behind his back and discussed his idea direct with Sainsbury’s and Barclaycard - now both founding members of the Nectar scheme. A Shell internal memo dated 9th December 1994 mentioned the understandable “extreme confidentiality” of the proposed SHELL/BARCLAYCARD loyalty scheme. “Extreme” because Shell had a letter from Don Marketing marked “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL” in which we had disclosed to them our approach to both of these potential partners. Shell later sent a letter of intent to Barclays Bank Plc concerning “further discussions and negotiations between Shell and Barclays Bank in relation to the development of a joint loyalty scheme” which would also involve “a small number of other retail partners” i.e. a multi-partner loyalty scheme. The person who originated the multi-partner idea – my son - has not earned a penny after the concept was stolen by Shell and improperly discussed and progressed by them in association with other corporate giant’s. The irony is that Shell eventually got its comeuppance when BP became the first petrol retailer in Nectar after Shell had burned its boats in the UK with the badly organised Shell led SMART scheme initiated by Andrew Lazenby.
Shell Senior Management is fully aware that the vast majority of small companies and individuals are far too frightened to take on a multinational goliath with almost unlimited financial resources. As a consequence, we found during the course of the further litigation that the only way to get their attention was to engage in unconventional but entirely legal tactics. We organised a protest group consisting of Shell suppliers and several hundred Shell Service station operators who also had grievances against Shell. We picketed Shell HQ buildings in London and at the Netherlands HQ of Royal Dutch Petroleum in The Hague. We handed out thousands of leaflets every week for several months. On one occasion we were joined by Shell retailers from Northern Ireland. At times, we had Shell-Mex House in London under virtual siege.
We also carried out regular nationwide surveys among Shell dealers to gauge their opinions about Shell. The survey forms were processed and the findings determined by an independent solicitor who supplied affidavits testifying to the astonishing results, which made depressing reading for Shell management. An overwhelming majority of Shell dealers in the UK thought that Shell business practices were unethical. We published the findings in full page advertisements in UK national magazines and on a website which was advertised in the UK national press and on an international basis in Time Magazine.
To bring our unconventional activities to an end, the Shell UK Chairman & Chief Executive at that time, Dr Chris Fay, made a bizarre offer in an astonishing meeting with my son and me at Shell-Mex House. He offered to pay our legal fees for us to sue Shell in respect of the litigation that was then underway. In other words Shell, a public company, paid our legal fees for us to sue them - we received the funds in stages during the course of the litigation. Shell eventually made an out of Court settlement of £200,000 ($300,000 US) - £100,000 for a Nintendo based game and another £100,000 for a movie based promotion called “Now Showing”. Dr Fay also sent us an unsolicited letter of apology drafted by Shell Legal Director, Richard Wiseman. We had already received £60,000 in settlement of the Make Money litigation.
Contrary to a denial by Richard Wiseman (in a Witness Statement) that Shell had never made any admission of liability in respect of our claims - in fact solicitors acting for Shell (Mackrell Turner Garrett) did admit liability in writing after settling our first legal action against Shell. Shell Senior Shell Legal Advisor, Mr Ian Brown also voluntarily made an admission of liability in a documented meeting held at Shell-Mex House on 14th June 1996. We later received the unsolicited letter of apology from Shell UK Chairman & Chief Executive Dr Chris Fay when Shell settled in our favour the second and third High Court Actions. The letter is published herein.
Shell SMART, the subject of the fourth High Court Action, was by far and away the most important concept, because Shell had adopted it on an international basis. Shell management was determined at all costs to avoid another defeat. The legal costs involved were deliberately driven up by Shell and I eventually had to sell my home to pay legal fees. My funds were exhausted shortly before the case finally came to Court. Legal aid was however refused. This was perhaps connected with the fact that Shell had written directly to the Legal Aid board making an unfounded allegation. Consequently, although facing a small army of lawyers including a leading Queens Counsel retained by Shell - Mr Geoffrey Hobbs QC - I had no legal representation whatsoever.
As will become evident, during the course of the litigation with Shell we encountered outright deception from: -
(1) Shell management and its lawyers
(2) Various undercover agents
(3) Geoffrey Hobbs QC (during the trial)
THE SMALL-WORLD PHENOMENON
You have probably heard of the Kevin Bacon game. It is based on the notion that you are only ever six “degrees of separation” away from anybody else on the planet. Almost everyone is familiar with the sensation of running into a stranger at a party and discovering they know somebody in common leading to the inevitable comment "Well, it's a small-world!”
I have discovered that this also applied in the case of our litigation with Shell. The Judge, Mr Justice Laddie originated from the same Chambers (8 New Square, Lincolns Inn, London) as Dr Mary Vitoria QC, the Queens Counsel who advised my son, and Lindsay Lane, the brilliant young barrister who represented John as junior Counsel in the Shell SMART trial. The three of them have in fact jointly authored a legal text book called “The Modern Law of Copyright and Designs”. Mr Justice Laddie is still named on the chambers website under "Associated and Former Members". We were also advised by John Baldwin QC, another barrister based at 8 New Square, Lincolns Inn, which is in fact the largest chambers in the UK practising solely in intellectual property work, patents, copyright and related law. We had previously received advice on other matters by former and current barristers in practice at the same chambers, Anthony Walton QC and Fiona Clark.
The degree of coincidence became even more startling when I recently discovered that Tom Moody-Stuart, the son of the then Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, was (and still is) a barrister at the same legal chambers specialising in the same field of law – copyright, patents, etc.
I was not aware of the situation whereby a number of leading and junior Counsel in chambers at 8 New Square were involved in pursuing our claims against a multinational company which coincidently happened to be headed by the father of one of their own close colleagues. I have assumed that Mr Justice Laddie did not personally know Tom Moody-Stuart, or otherwise it would have been an even more potentially incestuous background in which to prepare and conduct a fair High Court trial.
It is important to note this was not a normal case, but as previously indicated, the culmination of a series of High Court Actions over several years – a highly acrimonious dispute of an unprecedented nature, in which Tom Moody-Stuarts father (Sir Mark Moody-Stuart) and mother (Lady Judy Moody-Stuart) had both become personally involved - as the selection of correspondence and documents published herein will testify. Rightly or wrongly the integrity and credibility of his father had been publicly ridiculed and called into question. It was clear from an extraordinary letter which I received out of the blue from Lady Judy Moody-Stuart that our campaigning had made an impact on the Moody-Stuart family.
I had no inkling that someone with the closest possible link with the then head of the entire Royal Dutch Shell Empire would potentially have access to the confidential information about our case and our personal circumstances, which had been divulged in good faith to lawyers and staff at the chambers where Tom Moody-Stuart practiced.
Commonsense suggests that it was likely under the circumstances I have described that the case must have been a topic of office chitchat at 8 New Square bearing in mind the same clerks would be dealing on a daily basis with the relevant individuals, including Tom Moody-Stuart. It is evident from what is stated on the chambers website that there is organised social activity involving informal drinks, sport days etc. Given the human penchant for gossip it is surely not credible that such a high profile case, personally involving the father and mother of Tom Moody-Stuart, would not have been discussed.
As a loving father, I freely admit that I am undoubtedly biased in favour of my son – the bond between father and son can be something very special, as it is with us. I am sure the same applies in the case of Sir Mark and his son – hence my concern about the lack of candour. We supplied documents to Sir Mark identifying 8 New Square as the law chambers advising us and mentioned in correspondence the name of Mary Vitoria QC, a barrister at the same law chambers where his son was in practice. Sir Mark did not disclose that astonishing coincidence to us. Again commonsense suggests that his son MUST have known about the high profile case from his parents who had both been in correspondence with us. If so, Tom Moody-Stuart did not apparently disclose that potential conflict of interest.
Let me make it clear for the record that I have no reason to believe that Mr Tom Moody-Stuart is anything other than a person of the very highest integrity. The same applies to all of his colleagues at 8 New Square whom my son and I have met over the years. They are kind extremely nice people. My concern is that even a saintly son could have been tempted to aid a father in such unusual circumstances. To be frank, I would have been absolutely horrified if I had known about the potential enemy spy within my son’s legal camp.
MR JUSTICE LADDIE – A FURTHER POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
John was contacted shortly before the trial date to say that Mr Justice Laddie wanted him to know that he was a participant in the Shell SMART scheme and wondered if John was still happy for him to be appointed to decide the case. In other words he was prepared to withdraw from the case. It was a tenuous link and the potential for a conflict of interest on that score alone seemed negligible. John actually felt that the Judges knowledge of the Smart scheme could be of assistance.
However, Mr Justice Laddie did not disclose any connection (if there was one) with Mr Tom Moody-Stuart. In an attempt to verify my assumption that if the Judge had personally known Mr Tom Moody-Stuart at the time of the trial, he would have also declared that link, I recently sent an email to his Clerk, Mr Peter Smith. It is published below: -
12th November 2002
Mr Peter Smith
Clerk to Mr Justice Laddie
Dear Mr Smith
CH 1998 D No. 2149
JOHN ALFRED DONOVAN and SHELL UK LIMITED
My name is Alfred Ernest Donovan. I was a Defendant to the Counterclaim in the above action and I am the father of John Donovan. I am now residing overseas and amazingly still alive at 85, although probably with only a short time left.
About a year ago Mr Richard Wiseman, the Legal Director of Shell, used the “Judges Comments” arising from the above trial to deliberately torpedo my son’s relationship with a third party company. He made derogatory comments in writing based on what he claimed Mr Justice Laddie had stated. Mr Wiseman offered to supply the relevant company with a copy of the Judges Comments. During the course of subsequent correspondence, my son deduced (and Mr Wiseman did not deny) that contrary to the terms of the peace settlement approved by the Court, Shell had used the same information in other material circulated after the trial had concluded. My son consequently informed Mr Wiseman that Shell had acted in material breach and had thus repudiated the relevant agreements.
Because of these events and a gratuitous comment made by Mr Wiseman about me, I decided to write my memoirs, with a focus in particular on my extraordinary relationship with Shell, which stretches back over 40 years and of course the legal battles with them.
Over the last 12 months I have carried out a considerable amount of research and now have a complete draft manuscript. However I would like to confirm whether one assumption I have made is true as I do not want to publish (on the Internet or elsewhere) anything which is inaccurate.
Commonsense suggests that it is safe for me to assume (as I have) that as Mr Justice Laddie felt it proper to disclose his participation in the Shell Smart scheme prior to the trial, he would have also disclosed if he had any professional and/or social contact with Mr Tom Moody-Stuart. I say this bearing in mind that Tom Moody-Stuart is the son of the then Group Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group and consequently any such connection would have much greater potential significance than being a mere participant in the Shell Smart scheme. I am aware of the mutual association with 8 New Square and with various individuals at the chambers.
By way of further background information, you may possibly recall that during the course of the trial Mr Justice Laddie was given copies of my correspondence with Lady Judy Moody-Stuart (correspondence instigated by her). The Moody-Stuart family name was caught up in the trial and we were subsequently informed that Sir Mark personally approved the eventual settlement of the case even though it involved a subsidiary company. I would be grateful if Mr Justice Laddie would confirm through you that my assumption is correct.
Alfred Ernest Donovan
RESPONSE BY EMAIL THE FOLLOWING DAY (Wed, 13th Nov 2002)
Dear Mr Donovan,
Thank you for your e-mail re John Alfred Donovan and Shell UK Limited.
I have been instructed to inform you that Mr Justice Laddie is unable to enter into any correspondence or make any comment on this matter.
Clerk to the Hon Mr Justice Laddie (END OF EMAIL EXCHANGE)
There may be valid reasons, perhaps of a judicial nature, which prevented Mr Justice Laddie from making any comment. I know from my research that he is a much respected Judge of the highest reputation and integrity. He is obviously well aware that Justice has to be seen to be done, as he demonstrated by declaring (in advance of the trial) his participation in the Smart scheme. I would however have welcomed confirmation that the assumption I have made about the absence of any existing professional or social contact between the trial Judge and Mr Tom Moody-Stuart is correct.
Without that confirmation, I have to make a further assumption; namely that what I consider were unwarranted, unfair remarks made by Mr Justice Laddie at the conclusion of the trial were not influenced by any bias on his part resulting from a pre-existing connection with Tom Moody-Stuart. There is however another possibility that could account for his offensive remarks about my son and I. Mr Justice Laddie certainly took exception (as we were warned in advance by our lawyers that he might) to the lawful but unconventional tactics we had employed against Shell. He probably thought that it was un-gentlemanly conduct on our part – just not cricket. It is true that we are from an entirely different social background to the Judge and our opponents. It is also possible of course that the “Judges Comments” were based solely on his assessment of the evidence and witnesses heard up to the point when the case was settled. However I believe that an impartial reading of the Judges Comments including the rebuttals given in court by John’s barrister indicates quite clearly that whatever the reason, Mr Justice Laddie was by that point unfairly biased against my son.
My reading of the “Judges Comments” is that Mr Justice Laddie took the view that Lazenby was to be congratulated for deceiving and cheating companies dealing with Shell, because he acted in the best interest of Shell. If I have correctly understood the “Judges Comments” in this respect, then quite frankly I believe it was morally wrong for him, as a High Court Judge, to publicly endorse what the vast majority of ordinary people would agree, were irrefutably dishonest, disreputable actions by a Shell manager. Although apparently not illegal, Lazenbys actions were in clear breach of the propaganda and promises set out in Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles. I remain puzzled why the Judge went so far out of his way to defend Lazenby, yet came down hard on us in his comments for tactics executed in an honest legal fashion, as was demonstrated by the use of an independent solicitor to check and verify the survey results.
Leaving assumptions and speculation to one side, I note from my research that Tom Moody-Stuart is now on public record in any event as being a fan of Mr Justice Laddie, “the UK’s foremost intellectual property Judge” who he describes as “a great champion of parallel imports” who “is not keen on Fortress Europe”. Tom Moody-Stuart must have been delighted by the apparent public vindication of his father, even if it did not suit the ambitions of his own colleagues at 8 New Square, who would presumably have preferred a victory over Shell rather than a publicly proclaimed “stalemate” clouded in fog and subterfuge. In other words the usual deceit designed to mislead the media, the public, Shell staff, and Shell shareholders (deceit with which we had become so familiar with in our dealings with Shell). The truth is that unknown to the Judge, my son had insisted on a settlement formula that was not fully reflected in the settlement documents seen and approved by the Judge. While the settlement was not a victory, neither was it the “stalemate” described in the press release.
It has been pointed out to me (by my son) that it is not uncommon for Judges and barristers who are associated with the same chambers to all be involved in a particular case. He has mentioned a recent trial heard at the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice Jacob where the Claimant was represented by Mary Vitoria QC and Mark Chacksfield and the Defendants by Mark Platts-Mills QC and Lindsay Lane. The Judge and all four barristers involved are all associated with the same chambers - 8 New Square - (www.8newsquare.co.uk). So the legal fraternity operating in and around the UK central courts (in London) does seem to be a very small world (although it still strikes me as being a rather incestuous way of administering justice). However our case had the extra coincidental dimension that I have mentioned - the Tom Moody-Stuart element.
I sent a copy of the draft manuscript by email to Shell Legal Director, Richard Wiseman prior to publication. He kindly circulated it to various parties including Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. Selections of the relevant correspondence including an email to Mr Tom Moody-Stuart are published in PRE-PUBLICATION CORRESPONDENCE.
Readers must judge for themselves whether any conclusions can be drawn from the fact that the parties to whom the draft manuscript was circulated had a genuine opportunity to deny all or any comments made about them yet remained silent. I stand by my comments. Shell and the relevant individuals are of course free to sue me for libel if they deny the accuracy of what I have said. Any such litigation on their part would obviously be undermined by the fact that they all had the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies or unfounded allegations but did not do so.
Mr Justice Laddie declined my offer to supply him with a copy of the draft manuscript.
MR MALCOLM BRINDED CBE
We wrote shortly before the trial to the Dr Fay’s successor as Country Chairman of Shell UK, Mr Malcolm Brinded, drawing his attention to incriminating evidence we had found in Shell’s discovery documents, concerning irregularities in a tendering process for a major contract. The companies involved were deliberately deceived and cheated by Mr Andrew Lazenby, the same Shell HQ manager at the heart of all our claims. Mr Lazenby awarded the contract to a company which was not even in the tendering process. He happened to have a personal relationship with the directors of that company. Despite the clear evidence of wrongdoing, Mr Brinded would not intervene. I note that by coincidence or otherwise Mr Lazenby apparently is no longer with Shell. Copies of some of the relevant correspondence with Mr Brinded and extracts from the discovery documents supplied to him are being published on this website. The fact that we found the relevant incriminating discovery documents was a near miracle because they were buried in a mountain of documents, much of which had no possible relevance to the case at hand. It was all very reminiscent of the Machiavellian tactics portrayed in the whistleblower film, “Class Action”, starring Gene Hackman. Mr Brinded is now a Group Managing Director of the Royal Dutch Shell Group and Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Group Managing Directors (often described by the press as the Shell Politburo).
DRAMA IN COURT 58
The bizarre events continued when Shell lawyers sprang an ambush when my son was in the witness box alleging that he had committed fraud. More drama came when an out of court compromise settlement was agreed between the parties at a timely moment when Mr Lazenby was being subjected to what the Judge had described as a “reckless cross examination” by Mr Geoffrey Cox, the talented barrister specialising in criminal law who represented my son. More court room theatre followed when Mr Justice Laddie, rendered a form of judgement when the case had already been settled between the main parties. These were part of the “comments” to which I object. During the course of his comments the Judge had a dramatic exchange with Mr Cox. The drama continued in the Judges private chambers when John’s barrister disclosed that the Judge was unaware of the true nature of the settlement i.e. it was not quite the “stalemate” described in a so called “joint press release” (which in fact was issued solely by Shell). In other words, the smoke and mirror policies designed to hide the truth from the public and from Shell shareholders continued right to the end. Although my son did not “win” the case, money was forthcoming (but not for me).
For more then one reason, the settlement agreements which stemmed from the trial were improper and unethical e.g. the so called “independent” solicitor, Mr Carl Vincent, the nice young man who advised me on the matter, was, as will become evident, very far removed from being independent in view of his personal involvement in the Shell SMART claim.
HYPE & SPIN
Bearing in mind that my family and I endured an avalanche of threats from Shell and its lawyers over many years, when I see the “Profits & Principles” themed adverts for Shell in prestigious publications such as “Time Magazine”, I feel like throwing up. I know which of the two proves more important when push comes to shove. No amount of spin and hype can hide the fact that Shell’s claimed core principle of truth and honesty in all of its dealings is unadulterated propaganda. Like Enron and WorldCom executives, Shell senior management obviously feels that it is okay to hide the truth from its shareholders and the public. This has been proven time and time again in our dealings with them - as the gagging agreements drafted by Shell lawyers at the insistence of Shell senior management prove.
The same sleazy management policies were evident when it came to Shell senior management, led by Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Malcolm Brinded, making the fateful decision of either honouring the solemn pledges of honesty and openness proclaimed in Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles, or supporting a dishonest Shell manager. They preferred to ditch the principles and support the deceitful discredited Shell manager, Andrew Lazenby. That speaks volumes about the individuals involved.
Another strange thing is that due to the arrogance of Shell management, including its Legal Director, Mr Richard Wiseman, Shell has repudiated every confidentiality agreement that it reached with us. This includes the SMART peace settlement which was personally repudiated by Mr Wiseman. Two years after the trial he made comments about my son in a letter he sent to a third party which could only be construed as being deliberately spiteful and derogatory. This was a breach of the settlement terms. In their letter to me dated 25th June 1999 which led to the settlement of the Smart litigation, D J Freeman proposed a treaty on behalf of Shell “with a view to promoting peace between the parties and drawing a line under the disputes which have divided them” with all parties thereafter confining themselves to “neutral and non-inflammatory comments and observations”. Unfortunately when the opportunity presented itself two years later, Mr Wiseman could not stop himself putting in the poison against my son with a third party company with whom my son was hoping to do business. This, as I have said, was in complete contravention of the settlement with Shell. I have the relevant correspondence.
Furthermore, Mr Wiseman has not denied when challenged that as my son suspected, similar information was circulated by Shell after the trial in an attempt to vindicate its actions. Shell seems to believe that the contracts it enters into are only binding on the other parties, not Shell.
We also found it illuminating when we extracted an admission in writing from Richard Wiseman that the promises of honesty, integrity and openness proclaimed in Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles are, like a bet with a bookmaker, binding in honour only. They have NO legal force. There is more about this on page 10.
Before being appointed General Counsel of Shell UK Limited in 1992, Richard Wiseman was for a number of years Secretary to the Committee of Managing Directors (the “CMD”) of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Perhaps knowledge of past wrongdoing by Royal Dutch Shell senior management could explain his apparent charmed existence at Shell despite his incompetent actions, which sometimes backfire badly on Shell.
The individuals who reach the top at the Royal Dutch Shell Group naturally like to present a good image and I am sure would ideally prefer to run the whole massive enterprise in an ethical way. Nonetheless difficult problems inevitably arise from time to time. If anything dubious or underhand has to be done Shell in my experience does not hesitate to hire ruthless external resources to achieve the desired objective. This is of course done to put Shell management at a distance from the dirty work. DJ Freeman, the sleazy firm of solicitors who often act for Shell - now named Kendall Freeman (www.kendallfreeman.com) has no qualms about hiring unsavoury types prepared to engage in illegal/immoral activity. When someone engages in illegal undercover activity on behalf of DJ Freeman, acting for Shell, logic suggests that it is Shell management that has to bear the ultimate responsibility.
I have read with great interest Mr Wiseman’s association with the Shell LiveWIRE website launched at the end of October 2002 by UK Government Minister, Nigel Griffiths. Young people with new business ideas are encouraged to contact Shell LiveWIRE, which promises to help them develop their ideas. Based on our horrendous experience with Shell, this seems akin to asking a poacher to baby-sit livestock. I sincerely hope for the sake of young entrepreneurs using this potentially very useful service that there are no more rotten apples like Lazenby still working for Shell.
For the sake of my personal safety and health I have been living overseas as I fully expect that Shell will try to use its massive financial power to stop or censure my memoirs by legal or other means. Indeed sleazy lawyers D J Freeman have already started issuing threats;
– see PRE-PUBLICATION CORRESPONDENCE
Consequently my memoirs are published by the Shell Shareholders Organisation initially on the Internet via separate and mirror image English language websites in various jurisdictions, offshore and otherwise. I note that Shell has apparently tried very hard, thus far without success, to silence hostile websites; hence the precautions being taken to ensure continued publication irrespective of Shell’s actions.
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