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As I have made a number of serious allegations in this publication I sent a copy of the draft manuscript by email to Richard Wiseman. A self-explanatory copy of the email is printed below: -


Dear Mr. Wiseman

CH 1998 D No. 2149


As you may recall, just over a year ago, you acted in breach of the terms of the peace settlement approved by the Court in respect of the above action.  In a letter sent to a third party company you maliciously made what could only be interpreted as derogatory comments about my son, John Donovan. You were subsequently notified by my son that you had acted in material breach and had thus repudiated the relevant agreements. For the reasons set out in the manuscript I believe the validity of the agreements was already questionable.

Because of these events and a gratuitous comment made by you about me in your extensive exchange of emails at that time, I decided to write my memoirs. Over the last 12 months I have carried out a considerable amount of research and now have a complete draft manuscript running to 103 pages (attached).

Since you and a number of your colleagues are personally mentioned in the manuscript you are all invited to supply any comments you wish to make as to the accuracy of what is stated about you, or about matters of which you have personal knowledge.

I would carefully consider any comments so supplied when preparing the final draft for publication, which will of course be promoted on an international basis with my customary vigour. Please supply any such comments no later than 9th December 2002. The same invitation is extended to D J Freeman and Mr Hobbs. I will leave it to you to circulate the draft manuscript and the offer.

Yours sincerely

Alfred Ernest Donovan

Following receipt of my email Mr Wiseman kindly circulated the draft manuscript to salient parties including Andrew Lazenby. The following is a self-explanatory copy of an email which I sent subsequently to Mr Tom Moody-Stuart. I sent it because having learnt from Mr Wiseman that Sir Mark Moody-Stuart had asked him to send a copy to his son (Tom Moody-Stuart), it seemed an ideal opportunity to seek a clarification about any possible conflict of interest.


Dear Mr Tom Moody-Stuart

As you may be aware, I have been in correspondence with Shell Legal Director, Mr Richard Wiseman in his capacity as UK General Counsel of Shell International Limited. He has kindly circulated my draft manuscript to various interested parties including the following:-

Sir Philip Watts, Group Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell Group

Mr Malcolm Brinded, Group Managing Director, Royal Dutch Shell Group

Mr Steve Miller, Former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Shell Oil USA

Mr Clive Mather, Chairman, Shell UK Limited

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Director, Shell Transport and Trading Co plc

Mr Andrew Lazenby, former Shell UK Limited Promotions Manager

D J Freeman (Shell UK solicitors)

Those parties named above who are mentioned in the manuscript have been invited via Mr Wiseman to let me have any comments they may wish to make by 9th December 2002 on the basis that I would then carefully consider them. After Mr Wiseman raised the matter, I offered via Mr Peter Smith on 28 November 2002 to supply a complete copy of the manuscript to Mr Justice Laddie on the same basis.

Mr Wiseman also notified me on 29 November that your father, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, had asked him to send you a copy and that he had supplied it because he had my permission to do so (having previously raised the question with me).

I am aware that Mr Justice Laddie had an ongoing connection/association with your chambers (his former chambers) and has co-authored a legal text book with your colleagues at 8 New Square. I would like to know if that association extended to you personally. If you are able to confirm that you had no existing contact professional or otherwise with Mr Justice Laddie and never discussed the case with him or colleagues, then I will make that absolutely plain in a revised manuscript.

Even if Mr Justice Laddie had forgotten any connection/association then he would surely have realised this when he saw the letter from your mother at an early stage in the trial and/or one of the many references in documentary evidence to your father. "Moody-Stuart" is obviously a rare and distinctive surname and consequently instantly recognisable. When the name first came to the attention of Mr Justice Laddie it would surely have rung immediate alarm bells in terms of a potential conflict of interest if he did know you at that time. This is why I have assumed for the purpose of the draft manuscript that this could not have been the case, bearing in mind how scrupulous Mr Justice Laddie was in declaring his participation in the Smart scheme.

I would however like to obtain confirmation so that it can be accurately stated in the manuscript instead of having to make assumptions. I hope that you will feel able to assist even if Mr Justice Laddie still feels unable to do so himself. If you did not know him at the time and have never discussed the case then please confirm that information in unequivocal terms. It would mean a major rewrite but I would much prefer for the published information to be unambiguous and accurate.

If you want to take up this invitation but need more time to respond then please let me know. There is some haste because I am nearly 86 and will not live forever (Shell executives may at least be encouraged by this thought).

Yours sincerely

Alfred Donovan


No response was forthcoming.

I did however receive the following self-explanatory email from Mr Colin Joseph of Shell solicitors D J Freeman on 6th December 2002.

Our ref       CSJ/MD/01120045

Dear Sir

Richard Wiseman of Shell UK Limited has passed to me your e-mail to him of 26 November 2002, together with the draft manuscript attached to that e-mail. We are instructed to respond to you on behalf of Shell and current Shell employees.

You are plainly well aware of the confidentiality obligations contained in the Settlement Agreement entered into at the conclusion of the court proceedings in 1999. Your suggestion that Shell is somehow in repudiatory breach of the terms of that Settlement Agreement is completely without foundation, and was not pursued by your son at the time it was made last year.

Your proposed publication of the manuscript would amount to a most serious breach of the provisions of the Settlement Agreement, putting you in potential contempt of court, and subject to all the consequences which would flow from that. Our clients reserve all their rights in respect of any such publication.

In those circumstances we do not propose to undertake the laborious task of correcting the numerous inaccuracies that appear in your manuscript. These relate not only to the dealings which you and your son had with Shell prior to the most recent litigation, but also in relation to the trial which concluded that litigation. As you acknowledge, you attended only a very small part of that trial and your version of what took place during that trial is in many instances simply wrong. You will appreciate that the publication of inaccurate and defamatory material may leave you liable to further legal action in respect of which our clients also reserve their rights.

In addition to those whom we represent there are, of course, a number of third parties who may also have claims as a result of any publication of your manuscript. You will no doubt wish to take account of the fact that they may seek to pursue their own legal remedies in the event of such publication.

Yours faithfully

Colin Joseph

I sent the following self-explanatory reply on 9th December 2002.

Dear Mr Joseph

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 6th December 2002.

You say that D J Freeman is instructed to respond on behalf of Shell and current Shell employees. Since these are serious matters can you please be more precise and identify the relevant Shell companies and Shell employees. For example do you act for Mr Steve Miller, the Chairman of Shell Oil USA?

Contrary to what you say, my son did at the time of the breach notify Sir Philip Watts, the Group Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Group and Mr Malcolm Brinded, the then Country Chairman of Shell UK Limited. Please read the letters faxed by my son to both gentleman on 19th & 20th September 2001. He also notified Shell Legal Director Mr Richard Wiseman. My son decided not to take legal action at the time because of other non-related events but this does not change the fact that Shell was properly notified of its repudiatory breach. It follows that the Settlement Agreement is no longer in force. If your client disputes this, then the courts are available to settle the matter.

The whole point of contacting Shell and other relevant parties was to invite detailed comment on the accuracy of the manuscript, not blanket denials (by Mr Wiseman) or sweeping generalisations (by you). If you wish to point out any “instances” in regards to the trial which are allegedly incorrect, then I will double-check those instances with various other individuals who were in court at the relevant times. Alternatively you may wish to make available to me relevant extracts from the court transcript. That could surely settle any areas of contention about who said what.

Surely we can agree on at least one incontestable fact; you personally admitted in writing that your firm DJ Freeman, hired private investigators, Cofton Consultants, whose undercover operative, Mr Christopher Philips, was caught red-handed examining private mail at our offices. As you are aware he gave an entirely false explanation for his being on the premises. Do you take issue with this account? I wonder what Mr Watts attitude will be if D J Freeman is caught again acting sleazily on behalf of Shell.

The threats about defamation, breach of contract, contempt of court, potential action by third parties etc are also duly noted; a fairly typical variety of seasonal greetings from Shell. Is this part of the policy of dealing with me “sympathetically” as promised in writing by Mr Wiseman on 26th November 2002? If this is the compassionate approach, it is frightening to speculate on what I could expect if Shell decided to take a hard-line; perhaps a gift-wrapped bomb-tipped walking stick, or an Ebola infected fairy queen to hang on my Xmas Tree?

If Shell or any other party wishes to sue for defamation, I would welcome the opportunity to bring these matters to the attention of the public in such a forum. As you know, I have sued Shell in the High Court for libel and accepted a very substantial consideration from Shell partly to withdraw that action. It is Shell’s turn to sue me and I would willingly come back to the UK for that event. I suspect that McDonald’s bosses would caution Shell that a "McShell" libel trial might not be a particularly appetising way forward.

Yours sincerely

Alfred Donovan


Dear Mr Donovan

Thank you for your e-mail of 9 December 2002. We confirm that we are instructed on behalf of all of the companies within the Shell Group as well as all current Shell employees.

I have nothing to add to what was said in my e-mail of 6 December. Shell's position in relation to all these matters should now be perfectly clear to you, as should the risks that you would be undertaking by publication of this manuscript.

Yours sincerely

Colin Joseph

My Response on 23rd December 2002

Dear Mr Joseph

Thank you for your letter dated 16th December 2002. It is of course significant that you do not deny that letters were faxed to Mr Phil Watts, Mr Brinded, and Mr Wiseman in September 2001 properly notifying them of the repudiatory breach. I have reprinted below extracts from one such letter that my son sent by email to Mr Wiseman (and by fax to Mr Watts, Mr Malcolm Brinded, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart and Mr Steve Miller).

17 September 2001


Dear Mr Wiseman


I have been supplied with a copy of your astonishing email to XXXXXX XXXXXXX dated 7th September and your subsequent communications. I note your usual trade mark tactics - a willingness to distort the truth and bully and intimidate smaller companies.


It is plain that you replied to XXXXXX XXXXXXX but deliberately ignored my email of 30th August, having calculated that if you could bully him and his co-director into submission, then anything that I said on the matter would be rendered irrelevant.


It is difficult to interpret the comments in the last paragraph as anything other than a triumphant boast that Shell taught us a lesson - a distortion calculated to create the impression that Shell came out on top. This misrepresentation was designed to intimidate the directors of XXXXXX. As you must be painfully aware, the reality was rather different.


In relation to clandestine activities, my father brought to my attention a recent front-page story in The Sunday Times revealing that Shell had been forced to admit that it hired an undercover operative (and serving Secret Service agent) to infiltrate and inform on people and organisations campaigning against Shell - so apparently nothings changed.


I also noted the article published in The Sunday Telegraph on 2nd September in which Judy Boynton, the new Chief Financial Officer of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, was asked how she felt about "joining a company facing a possible lawsuit in the US courts alleging involvement in the torture and murder of Nigerian environmentalists by the Country's former military regime". Ms Boynton indicated in her reply that "when you have any mishaps you have to respond to them responsibly".


While I have no idea if there is any substance to those particular allegations, what is undeniable is that Shell has routinely turned a blind eye to the corruption in Nigeria - a policy which, as you and the most senior management of Royal Dutch/Shell know full well, it also applied in the UK market. Indeed, Mr Lazenby who deliberately hoodwinked and defrauded a host of companies, proudly boasted at the end of his Witness Statement that he had the support of Shell senior management at the very highest level.


Bearing all of the above in mind - corruption, intrigue, intimidation, secret agents, infiltration, clandestine operations (leaving to one side the allegations of involvement in torture and murder), perhaps you should consider changing your company name to Spectre - it would be much more fitting. Under the circumstances Shell's multi-million pounds investment in the propaganda line of "Profits & Principles" must be the most dishonest advertising claim of all time.


You have admitted in writing that the Judges comments have no relevance whatsoever to the issues being discussed. Why then in addition to making comments to a third party that could only be described as being derogatory in nature, did you offer the transcript to that third party. I am afraid that there can be only one possible motive; to deliberately further denigrate my father and myself. It is also clear from your comment about being "happy" to supply the transcript, that you derived some twisted personal satisfaction from so doing.


Further evidence of this deliberate course of action is provided by your request today for an address to send the transcript even though you had my address (and had sent a letter to my address on 17th August 2001). In other words, you knew that you were dealing with a third party and were intent on poisoning my relationship with the directors of the company.


As you know XXXXXX Limited was not a party to the Deed of compromise; as far as I know the company did not even exist at that time. Consequently, your malicious comments made to a third party company of which you knew I was neither a director, shareholder or employee were in breach of clause 4 of the Deed of Compromise, which no doubt you are now studying with some considerable trepidation. The "tactics" mentioned in a derogatory way in your email were the subject of the Writs, pleadings, witness statements and written submissions of Counsel and consequently, as you have now realised, a matter of controversy.


I therefore consider that Shell is in repudiatory breach of the Deed of Compromise dated 5th July 1999 and as a result, I hereby terminate that agreement. It follows that the corresponding terms of the associated Deed dated 5th July 1999 are also rendered null and void.


On a personal note, I am shocked at the vindictive and nasty nature of your remarks bearing in mind that you knew that the XXXXXX project represented an opportunity for me to resume my career. I had no idea that you hated my father and me as much as you clearly do. You knew exactly what you were doing. It is plain that you are itching for a rematch - though I doubt that your more senior colleagues will share your enthusiasm.


I have noted your view that my father's adverse reaction to this incident is “irrelevant". We will see if you maintain this relaxed stance if he publishes the autobiography which he now plans to write as a result of your malicious actions. I am sure that if and when his autobiography comes to fruition you will have a starring role.


Yours sincerely

John Donovan 


My son's action in taking the trouble to notify in writing several senior executives of the Royal Dutch Shell Group is completely at odds with your assertion on the matter. Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions as to why Shell lawyers have chosen to ignore this irrefutable documentary evidence.

I am impressed with your clear statement that DJ Freeman acts for ALL of the companies and employees within the Shell Group. These instructions must obviously have come from the very highest level of the Royal Dutch Shell Group.

It is notable that there has been no comment by you on the factors which undermined the validity of the settlement agreements from the outset e.g. the fact that although I was over 80 years old, I did not receive independent legal advice as is required by law.  Shell also knew that I was unwell at the time that I was pressurised into signing the litigation settlement documents - a settlement which directly benefited every party to the action, except me.

Readers will also have to draw their own conclusions on why Mr Tom Moody-Stuart chose to ignore my letter to him after his father, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, had asked Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman to ensure that a copy of the manuscript should be sent to his son. If Tom Moody-Stuart did not know Mr Justice Laddie professionally or socially at the time of the trial and had never discussed our case with him, why did he not simply say so? A categorical statement could have removed any doubt or suspicion. I do not understand the reticence on his part. It is of course his right to remain silent if he so desires.

I will now act on the basis of your notification that you have nothing further to say on these matters.

If however you would like to see a copy of the final manuscript in advance of publication in January 2003 please let me know.

Yours sincerely

Alfred Donovan

No comments were forthcoming from any party. However Mr Wiseman did at least on behalf of Shell taken up the opportunity to circulate the manuscript. During the course of our discussions I noted that Mr Wiseman is still his usual tetchy self. At one stage he said that the correspondence was at an end, yet continued to exchange emails. On another occasion he said he would not act as my “post office” but continued to circulate the manuscript on my behalf (for which I am duly grateful).

Colin Joseph alleged in his letter that there are inaccuracies in my account of what occurred in court. He went on to say that “your version of what took place during that trial is in many instances simply wrong”.  However he did not cite ONE example to support his criticism. It is also notable that Mr Joseph ignored my proposal that he supply a copy of the transcript of the court proceedings (on the basis that it provides a written incontrovertible record of exactly what happened during the trial).

Furthermore, as is evident from the above correspondence, I have in fact gone to considerable lengths to verify with the key people involved the account of the events that I have published.   A number of people who were in court throughout the trial (including a lawyer) have seen the draft manuscript and have not taken issue with what I have stated. Readers must judge for themselves whether any conclusions can be drawn from the fact that the individuals associated with Shell to whom the draft manuscript was also circulated had the same opportunity to comment (or make denials), yet did not do so.

I therefore stand by my account and publicly challenge Shell and relevant individuals to sue me for libel if they do deny the accuracy of what I have said.

The basic account of events published on this website is for the most part identical to the manuscript supplied to Shell and other named parties.

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