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The Shell Shareholder Organisation is pleased to publish a biography of Alfred Donovan which includes an account of an epic David v Goliath battle with one of the worlds most powerful multinationals – the Royal Dutch Shell Group. It is an extraordinary true story involving corruption; deception; undercover activity; death threats and High Court drama. (Click on Introduction to read full foreword).

By way of further background information, in 1995, Shell challenged the legitimacy of the forerunner to the current organisation, the “Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group” also founded by Alfred and John Donovan.  

At Shell’s instigation the UK Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) investigated whether the Pressure Group could substantiate claims made in full page advertisements published in the UK national press (see below). As part of the investigation an extensive membership list, including Shell suppliers, Shell station operators, Shell staff and Shell shareholders was supplied to the ASA. The Pressure Group fully cooperated with the ASA and the ASA was satisfied that the claims were entirely legitimate. Shell UK Limited later issued a Press Release concerning the activities of the Pressure Group and has subsequently corresponded with us at Chairman level. This amounted to effective recognition.   

In fact nearly 15% of Shell UK retailers joined the pressure group. Several hundred Shell retailers participated in the “business ethic” surveys about Shell mounted by the Pressure Group. It published the results in successive monthly whole page notices in the UK forecourt trade press such as “Forecourt Trader”. All survey responses were opened under the supervision of an independent solicitor who provided an Affidavit verifying the results, which were devastatingly bad for Shell. For example, 75% of the Shell stations that participated were of the opinion that Shell UK was unethical, incompetent, and greedy.  

Shell never did take up the challenge by the Pressure Group to commission and publish the results of independent research, using precisely the same questions and offering respondents GUARANTEED anonymity.  

After the founders received certain undertakings from Shell, the Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group was closed down. It was later resurrected by Alfred and John Donovan in the form of the Shell Shareholders Organisation after Shell acted in breach of the undertakings.

Information (as of September 2007) about the activities of Alfred & John Donovan could be found at:

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